Who We Are

Whale Sound is a collaboration of Indigenous communities and NGOs, who share a long history of working together to better understand the marine soundscape of BC.

We have done this through multiple platforms of marine and land-based surveys, combined with acoustic monitoring. This has led to many interesting discoveries regarding the culture and acoustic traditions of different whale species, which you can learn about throughout this website. Our shared philosophy is to focus on non-intrusive research methods and to always show respect for the well-being of whales.

We understand that whales are a highly evolved, intelligent, and self-aware species that have captivated the hearts and curiosity of many.

Together we have developed a coast-wide acoustic information system with a user-friendly interactive map and dashboard that tracks whales and the underwater soundscape of the BC coastline. The data that has been collected is a massive acoustic library available to help researchers, territorial stewards, conservation-minded individuals, & decision-makers. Using this data, we can identify trends in noise levels within different regions of the coast, along with the potential impacts on whale habitat usage and behavior. It is also a great resource for comparing the acoustic behavior of whales in relation to different levels of noise in their environment.  The tools we have developed will assist in the mitigation of marine protected areas and slow down zone for whales.

The BCHN is a great example of the strength of partnerships and the spirit of collaboration. We believe that if we continue working as one we can ensure the continued recovery of whales along the coast of BC.

BC Whales

The North Coast Cetacean Society – BC Whales was founded in 2001 and is a non-profit, charitable whale- research organization with 22 years of dedication towards research, education, and the protection of whales within British Columbia waters. Their research includes marine and land based surveys, drone research, PhD and Masters student projects and acoustic monitoring. In 2001, with permission of the Gitga’at First Nation they built the research station known as Cetacea Lab, and in 2016 the Fin Island Research Station. Both stations have given researchers and local community members the opportunity to live remotely with whales to study their behavior in their natural environment. Their objective has always been to protect habitat for the long-term survival of whales along the coast of BC recognizing the importance of robust scientific research in conjunction with community outreach in having tangible impacts on protection of habitat for all whales.

Gitga’at First Nation

Gitga’at First Nation is located on British Columbia’s remote northwest coast, the present-day home community of the GITGA’AT NATION is Hartley Bay. The Gitga’at have been stewards of their land and its resources since time immemorial, and their surroundings are deeply tied to their customs, daily life, and cultural identity.


OrcaLab was founded in 1970 on Hanson Island, known as Yukusam in the traditional territories of the ‘Namgis, Mamalilikulla and Tlowitsis First Nations in the Johnstone Strait area of northern Vancouver Island. The work of OrcaLab is based on the philosophy that it is possible to study the wild without interfering with lives or habitat. OrcaLab is a pioneer of passive real time acoustic monitoring and technology. They established a network of hydrophones, positioned around the orcas’ core habitat in the Johnstone Straight and Blackfish Sound to monitor their movements and communication between family members, pods and clans. Supplementing the acoustic data are land based visual sightings of orcas as they pass OrcaLab, identifying the social dynamics and travel patterns of both resident and biggs orca populations. They have been instrumental regarding protecting the Robson Bight Rubbing Beaches used by resident orca and recently added surface and underwater cameras in key locations to document habitat use and assist in an highly effective outreach program. OrcaLab’s operational philosophy is learning without interference.


The Kitasoo/Xai’xais community and its leadership, ensure that Kitasoo/Xai’xais laws, customs, traditions, policies and practices are included in resource planning and management decisions, and advocate for the recognition of Kitasoo/Xai’xais Aboriginal title and rights. Klemtu is the home to the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation.


SIMRES (Saturna Island Marine Research & Education Society) was founded as a community-based non-profit society in 2013, and has been operating hydrophones in Boundary Pass south of Saturna Island since 2014, with four currently in operation, and one or two more being planned. SIMRES academic collaborators are based at the University of Victoria, at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and in Washington State, USA. SIMRES also has extensive operational collaboration with the Marine Mammal Reporting Desk (Canadian Coast Guard) in Sidney, DFO local staff and DFO Enforcement staff, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve staff, Port of Vancouver, the ECHO (Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation) program, Ocean Wise, and JASCO.


Heiltsuk – Bella Bella, BC, is home of the Heiltsuk Nation.

Heiltsuk territory encompasses 16,658 square kilometres of land, and extensive nearshore and offshore waters in an area that has only recently come to be known as the Central Coast of BC. Their territorial boundaries are defined by six Heiltsuk tribal groups and extend into national waters. According to their nuyem or oral tradition, they have a relationship with these rich and productive lands and waters for countless generations.


WWF-Canada is the country’s largest International conservation organization, with the active support of hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Working in a worldwide network covering over 100 countries, WWF take an evidence-based, collaborative approach to finding solutions to the most significant conservation challenges the Earth is facing today. WWF-Canada is working to conserve species at risk, protect threatened habitats and address climate change. WWF’s long-term vision is simple: to create a world where people and nature thrive. WWF-Canada is involved in several initiatives to reduce the impact of shipping on marine mammals and numerous whale conservation initiatives nationally. On the north coast of British Columbia this includes the SWAG project and the BC Hydrophone Network.

Working Together for One Purpose

Each partner carries the shared vision of habitat protection for whales at risk and data collection to support recovery plans for each species. The purpose of the BCHN is to enable our organizations and communities to build, maintain and contribute to a shared, coast-wide acoustic information system. This creates the ability to collect acoustic and visual data on whale activity using consistent standards and protocols, via professionally maintained and consistently calibrated hydrophone station equipment.

High quality, comparable datasets gathered by all BCHN members are archived using one server to preserve its long-term integrity and has been made searchable and available for research, management, stewardship and educational purposes. This acoustic database will enable the comparison of vessel traffic impacts on whales at risk in areas that differ environmentally and acoustically. This collaboration between BCHN partners will enable scientists to quantify how the ocean soundscape is changing along the entire coast of BC.

The BC Hydrophone Network has been developed to document the acoustic presence and habitat use of whale species along the entire coast of BC, while simultaneously assessing potential impacts of anthropogenic noise in specific regions of their acoustic habitat. To date we have successfully installed 18 hydrophones stations in remote and key locations, including within the traditional territories of coastal First Nation communities along the coast of British Columbia.