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Project Details

Victoria, BC, Canada

As one of the longest-standing and most successful citizen science programs in Canada, the Ocean Wise Sightings Network (OWSN) has gathered cetacean sighting reports from volunteer observers of diverse backgrounds for over 22 years.

Placement Details

The Ocean Wise Sightings Network (OWSN) is a citizen science initiative which collects sightings of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) and sea turtles from mariners, recreational boaters, and coastal citizens for conservation-based research.

Participants of this placement provide support to the Southern Vancouver Island Cetacean Research Initiative (SVICRI) in Victoria by:

  • helping promote Ocean Wise conservation-based research through with local community engagement
  • planning and conducting public outreach events to educate locals on marine mammal laws/guidelines, and encourage reporting of cetacean sightings using the WhaleReport app
  • contributing to the WhaleReport Alert System (WRAS) database and assisting with data entry & management
  • conducting land-based cetacean surveys on Saturna Island to collect data on harbour porpoise habitat use and vessel presence
  • creating content for Ocean Wise social media platforms including writing blogs and articles
  • promoting the Whale Trail BC.

Participants conduct site visits to Whale Trail signs in the Southern Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island, and work directly with the Ocean Wise Communications team to increase knowledge of this program through social media.

Placement Category: Community Outreach and Education; Communication and Media

Placement Season: Summer

Placement Type: Urban, Field

2023 Participant Highlight

Participant Rachit Trivedi

During his 2023 placement, Rachit gained the outreach and science communications skills to be able to engage people in whale conservation and citizen science. He also participated in whale blitzes and produced short videos about his experience. In fact, his placement highlight was the first time that he ever saw a humpback breach while filming.

Rachit shares, “before a year, I only had a vision to work towards ocean conservation, but Ocean Pathways gave me a chance to feel what it’s like to work in ocean conservation and it feels fantastic.”

Check out a video that Rachit made of a local Whale Blitz here.

2021 Participant Highlight

Participant Kenadee Maxwell and Nicholas Low

Kenadee’s project involved a couple of different facets that relate to ocean literacy, from on-the-ground work doing public outreach and education about BC’s whales, to field work, and taking on a large research project during her placement. The people Kenadee was able to connect with were very valuable, and she gained lots of practice connecting with people by doing public outreach and education, as well as passive research experience by doing harbour porpoise surveys. 

Nicholas primarily worked on the WRAS database but also got to contribute to the harbour porpoise survey data during field trips to Saturna Island. This was Nicholas’ first time using QGIS and he also learned lots of new skills in R while creating maps based on many years’ worth of sightings data. He also added to his personal skills by taking driver training and learning about photography during field visits to Saturna Island. What he will remember most is seeing a pod of transient orcas for the first time off the coast of Saturna Island. He also successfully grew his professional network to include world-class cetacean researchers like Lance Barrett-Armstrong. 

Read Nicholas’ blog about the OWSN here!

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