Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society
by Jessica Hutchinson, Tofino
This year marks the 23rd annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival, a community event that celebrates the return of whales to our area. Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society (SIMRS) will be hosting the Build-a-Whale exhibit again this year at the Tofino Community Hall on March 20th and the Ucluelet rec hall on March 19th, SIMRS invites all youngsters to come check out this exciting event. Build-a-Whale is an interactive educational program where kids piece together the bones of a real-life killer whale, while having fun and learning in the process.
SIMRS is a local registered charity that dedicates its time to marine research, monitoring, and education. For over eighteen years SIMRS has carried out primary research on the biologically diverse marine ecosystems here in Clayoquot Sound. Conducting scientific field studies on transient killer whales, humpback whales, sea otters, coastal wolves, pelagic birds and eel grass beds are just a few of the projects SIMRS is currently involved in.
Since its inception the Society has worked closely with the local marine community, recording and monitoring marine observations and sightings throughout the year. Unlike many organizations, SIMRS monitors the marine environment on an on-going daily, year-round basis; recording sightings and observations as they occur. This comprehensive and systematic approach to monitoring has led to an in-depth species specific database, with immeasurable fine-scale information of our local environment. This information is generously shared with other researchers or organizations and because of this has given SIMRS a valued reputation.
In addition to research and monitoring, SIMRS works in alliance with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). Together these organizations have developed a response program for whale entanglements in commercial fishing gear. Humpbacks and grey whales travel thousands of kilometres every year and unfortunately run the risk of coming into contact with marine debris and lost or active fishing gear. Crab traps are a common source of gear that can accidentally entangle a whale, inhibiting its breathing, feeding, or momentum. A crew of trained responders from SIMRS mobilizes in reponse to reported sightings of whale entanglement off our coast. SIMRS is part of a network of organizations along the coast of British Columbia that are authorized by DFO to respond safely and effectively to marine mammal entanglements.
One way you can assist SIMRS in its work is by reporting your sightings at 250.725.2211, on your radio on Channel 15 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out how to get involved and for more information on supporting SIMRS in its work, look for our new brochure about town, or visit our website at www.strawberryisle.org.
The Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society, based in Tofino, has been conducting marine research on the biologically diverse marine ecosystems in Clayoquot Sound.