Conservation and Research within Vancouver Island North
Some of the world’s first research on wild cetaceans began in the Vancouver Island North region, where scientists pioneered research techniques while contributing to the conservation of cetaceans in the area.
Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve
Designated as an ecological reserve in 1982, Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve (RBMBER) is a sanctuary for Northern Resident Killer Whales. Within RBMBER, the Northern Resident Killer Whales forage for salmon and use the smooth pebble beaches that line the shore to engage in beach-rubbing. This behaviour is unique to this area and this population of orca.
The RBMBER is legally designated as Critical Habitat for Northern Resident Killer Whales and all boaters, motorized and non-motorized, are expected to refrain from entering the reserve to reduce disturbance to these whales.
Cetacean Research on Vancouver Island North
Home for many cetaceans, researchers have conducted studies in the Vancouver Island North area for decades. In 1970 Dr. Paul Spong set up Orcalab to study whales from shore in a non-intrusive manner. In the early 1970’s, Dr. Michael Bigg pioneered photo identification of Killer Whales in this region, allowing for whale censuses and identification of different ecotypes. The research of Paul Spong, Michael Bigg, Graeme Ellis, Helena Symonds, John Ford, and Alexandra Morton have inspired many scientists and individuals to continue research and conservation efforts in the Vancouver Island North area. Current research in the region is conducted by numerous organizations, including the federal government, private research labs, and non-profit organizations.
Robson Bight Warden Program
The Robson Bight Warden Program is operated by Cetus Research and Conservation Society. Marine Wardens provide water- and land-based monitoring of the RBMBER and education to recreational boaters.