Our major program themes are Mapping the Diversity of Life, Conserving Migratory Networks, Recovering Ecosystems, and Scientific Discovery.

Mapping the Diversity of Life

Northern Salish Sea Atlas Project

Project Leader: Rob Butler

The Northern Salish Sea Atlas project is systematically mapping the year-round distribution of its marine mammals and birds. The results have been used in government conservation policy, environmental assessments, endangered species protection, and academic research.

BC Parks iNaturalist Project

Project Leader: John Reynolds & Brian Starzomski

The BC Parks iNaturalist Project is a Simon Fraser University-University of Victoria led citizen science initiative to provide unprecedented insight into the diversity of living things in BC Parks. In collaboration with BC Parks and the BC Parks Foundation, the project uses the iNaturalist web-based platform to photo-document as many species of animals and plants in BC Parks. PWLF is providing support for marine parks. Learn more and follow the project. [ READ MORE ]

The Ecology of West Coast Transient Killer Whales

Project Leader: Andrew Trites

Mammal eating transient Killer Whales are suspected to consist of distinct sub-populations. The Transient Killer Whale Project by Associate Josh McInnes will determine Killer Whale population structure along the North American west coast to confirm the presence of more than one population, and describe their home range, behaviours, social interactions and diets.

Conserving Migratory Networks

Migration of Seaducks Project

Project Leaders: Dan Esler and Sean Boyd

The west coast is the winter home for many sea ducks, including most of the world’s Barrow’s Goldeneye. The Migration of Seaducks Project has uncovered the migratory routes, breeding places, molting and winter sites with important management and conservation implications. [ READ MORE ]

Important Cetacean Area Project

Project Leaders: Jim Darling and Rob Butler

The Pacific Coast of British Columbia and Alaska is known world-wide for resident and transient killer whales, humpback, and gray whales that provide for a thriving whale watching industry. The Important Cetacean Area project devised and designed by PWLF aims to identify a network of sites frequented large and small cetaceans in the North Pacific to assist in conservation planning.

Migratory Shorebird Project 

Project Leader: Rob Butler

The Pacific Coast of North America is a major migratory route for millions of Arctic breeding shorebirds that spend the winter in South America, Central America, Mexico and western North America. Their survival is dependent on sandy beaches, bays, wetlands, mangroves and farmlands. This ambitious 10-year, multi-partner project led by Point Blue will help guide shorebird conservation in the Americas. Dr. Rob Butler from Pacific WildLife is a founding partner of this project. [ READ MORE ]

Recovering Ecosystems Program

Tracing the Lineage of Gray Whales Project

Project Leader: Jim Darling

Since 2013, the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, geneticists, ecologists and archaeologists have been investigating the ecological and cultural history prior to European contact through the recovery and analysis of a cache of ancient whale bones. The remains span thousands of years of Nuu Chah Nulth whaling culture. Changes in our coastal ecosystem over centuries or millennia may be recorded in these bones.

Vancouver Island Gray Whale Studies and Database

Project Leader: Jim Darling

Studies on the abundance, population definition, behavior, habitat use and prey species have been conducted over the last 40 years. Currently a study of social organization on the feeding grounds, based on long term associations of individuals and genetic analyses, is underway. A database, including all photoidentifications, sightings histories, DNA and behavioral observations of individual gray whales resident along the west coast of Vancouver Island, 1970-2019, is being developed. The purpose is for continuing study but also to archive and make accessible this information everyone through the web.

Recovery of the Humpback Whale Project

Project Leader: Jim Darling

Over four decades of data are being summarized to document the recovery of humpback whales on the coast of British Columbia. A picture is emerging how individuals use the area, how long they are present, their migratory destinations, birth interval and age of sexual maturity. All photo-identifications, in conjunction with other photo collections from throughout the Pacific are assembled regularly in catalogues. Long-term data provided an insight into the rate of recovery of the whales and linked the breeding sites in Mexico, Hawaii and Japan to the summer feeding grounds along Vancouver Island. The recovery of the humpback took over three decades to begin and it will likely require many years before the recovery is complete. This information is important for meaningful management and conservation policies.

Scientific Discovery Program

Bird Week

Project Leader: Rob Butler

Bird Week is a public celebration of birds held each year to coincide with World Migratory Bird Day in May. Bird Week began in Vancouver as part of the city’s strategy to become more bird friendly. In 2018, Bird Week established the Vancouver International Bird Festival in conjunction with the 27th International Ornithological Congress that drew thousands of people to events and millions of viewers on line and through the media. In 2020, Bird Week grew to include cities and municipalities across the region.  [ READ MORE ]

Nature Culture Project

Project Leaders: Rob Butler and Mike McKinlay

The Nature Culture project led by Dr. Rob Butler aims to embed nature into culture as a means to sustain the resource and the livelihoods through public lectures. Our latest film called Returning will air on the Knowledge Network in 2019. An ongoing series of lectures and special feasts have been held.  [ READ MORE ]

Marine Mammal Symposium Project

Symposium Chair: Andrew Trites

The annual Marine Mammal Symposium draws over 200 researchers, students, whale watching companies and citizens interested in the latest findings about marine mammals. As a founding partner in the symposium begun nearly three decades ago, Pacific WildLife is pleased to continue our sponsorship each autumn at the University of British Columbia.

Restoring a Classic Sailboat

Project Leader: Rod MacVicar

The kind of research we do requires boats and in 2016 we chose to restore and repurpose a small ocean class passage sailboat with the lowest environmental footprint as possible. We found a classic Baba 30 sailboat that had a solid hull and deck but had been neglected for many years and was in rough shape. Bob Berg had commissioned Bob Perry to build the Babas to make long ocean passages by two people. About 170 Baba 30s were built in Taiwan of which several still can be seen in the Salish Sea. We couldn’t allow such a classic boat with a local history, be lost. In 2016, Pacific WildLife Foundation took on the task of restoring ‘Thais’ to her former glory. More
A marine surveyor’s report said she would need weeks of work to bring back into working order. Over the summer months, we brought her back to life and refloated her in Port Moody. A jib, dodger, navigation equipment, cushions, and batteries were added or replaced and with appropriate nautical ceremony, we renamed her ‘Matsu’ after the Chinese sea goddess. Matsu had her inaugural sail to take President Rob Butler on a Gulf Islands speaking tour and later took Vice President Ron Ydenberg on the first research expedition to Desolation Sound.