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Project Details

Ucluelet, BC, Canada

Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society is a not-for-profit dedicated to conducting long-term research and monitoring, providing emergency marine mammal response, and educating the public about marine ecosystems.

Placement Details

Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society (SIMRS) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to research, monitoring, and education from 1991-2023. They are based on the West coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia and conducts work within and between Barkley and Clayoquot Sounds. SIMRS achieves their goals through several different initiatives, including Bigg’s Killer Whale Monitoring, Build-A-Whale, the Sea Star Stewardship Program, the Ocean Literacy Program, the BC Marine Mammal Response Network, and Pelagic Marine Species Surveys. Redd Fish Restoration Society will now be taking on these initiatives, and Ocean Pathways is expected to host placements with them in the future.

Ambassadors assisted in both field research and office work, contributing to many of SIMRS initiatives. They supported the establishment of long-term marine life monitoring in Clayoquot Sound, promote citizen science activities, and encouraged public stewardship of the local marine wildlife and ecosystems. Ambassadors participated in SIMRS’ monthly pelagic marine species surveys and develop several communication pieces to educate the public about the conservation initiatives in the region. Duties include anything from data collection and database management for both the whale monitoring and sea star monitoring programs; providing education and outreach both in-person and virtually, such as social media, blogs, website development, video creation, ArcGIS Storymaps, and public events. Ambassadors also travelled within BC as part of the Build-A-Whale Program.

Placement Category: Field Research and Monitoring; Data Analysis, Management, and Reporting

Placement Season: Spring/Summer

Placement Type: Field, Urban

2021-2022 Participant Highlights

Participant Amanda Purnell

During her placement Amanda had the opportunity to practice environmental writing by actively engaging the public through social media and writing a blog on the history of SIMRS. Since then, she has been asked to write two more blogs, which were printed in the October and November editions of the Tofino Time magazine! Amanda also initiated a fundraising campaign to raise funds for SIMRS by running a marathon, successfully meeting her fundraising goal.

Participant Jesse Gruneau

Jesse’s placement had a direct impact on ocean health and literacy. The media and educational materials he created reached many members of the public and taught them about different aspects of local marine conservation initiatives. He also made lasting contributions to the many research projects that SIMRS is engaged in, including participating in the first pelagic survey in the area since 2002. 

One of Jesse’s biggest challenges was living and working in an isolated environment, especially during a winter placement. He overcame this by making time to attend social events and continuing to make connections with new people, as well as by keeping regular calls with his Ocean Pathways Program Specialist. He was also able to have visitors at several points throughout his placement, so made sure to show them around Tofino and Ucluelet.

A big highlight for Jesse was the ability to tailor his own learning experience; he was able to choose how to use his professional development funding based on interests, got to focus on certain aspects of the work SIMRS does, and was able to engage with the Ocean Pathways online space on his own schedule.

Read about Jesse’s experience working with the SIMRS here!

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