Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Dalhousie University launch interactive map to help protect North Atlantic right whales

News release

Ottawa, Ontario – The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the endangered North Atlantic right whale, which experienced unprecedented numbers of deaths last year in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We are implementing various protection measures to reduce the threats and basing our decisions on the best information possible.

Today the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced a new interactive mapping tool that displays the recent known locations of the whales as they travel in Canadian waters. The map displays near real-time whale detection information provided by various partners who contribute airborne, vessel and acoustic glider detections of the North Atlantic right whale.  By providing this information on the web, partners will be better able to work together and ocean industries and members of the public will have rapid access to the most comprehensive information available.

The WhaleMap, developed by Hansen Johnson, a PhD student in Oceanography at Dalhousie University, is now available on Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s website. Users will be able to view recent right whale detections and also customize the map to display various surveillance efforts and protection measures.

The project received $57, 500 in funding support from the Oceans Protection Plan. The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to ensure our coasts are healthier, safer and better protected. The plan includes measures that will address threats to marine mammals in Canadian waters and enhance capacity to respond to marine mammal incidents.

Quotes

“Our government is committed to the protection of endangered species, and will continue to take all appropriate actions to reduce threats to the iconic North Atlantic right whale and help ensure the survival of the species. Protecting Canada’s endangered whales from further harm is a shared responsibility, and working with partners like Dalhousie University adds more tools to strengthen these efforts.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

 “The Government of Canada is determined to ensure navigational safety while protecting the North Atlantic right whales. Transport Canada’s National Aerial Surveillance Program flights are invaluable for detecting North Atlantic right whales and we will not hesitate to adapt the slowdown area as whales are detected.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

“This new mapping tool provides an incredibly innovative way to gather the data we need to help protect the North Atlantic right whales. The research being be conducted by the faculty and students involved in the Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR) - Whales, Habitat and Listening Experiment (WHaLE) project is truly world-class, and we’re proud that it is happening at Dalhousie.”

Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President Research, Dalhousie University

“In November 2017, Minister LeBlanc emphasized the need to enhance whale detection information and to share the information in a timely manner. With our wholehearted agreement, we began to enhance the WhaleMap to what it is now. The map will continue to get better with the tremendous efforts of the multiple-agency survey teams who upload their data as quickly as they can. This quintessential collaboration will help to protect an endangered species.”

Dr. Christopher Taggart, Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University

Quick facts

  • In 2017, 12 North Atlantic right whales died in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The global population is approximately 450 with only roughly 100 females of breeding age.

  • Surveillance efforts will help inform decisions on measures specific to the shipping and fishing industries to help protect North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

  • DFO is currently working with both Canadian and international experts in reviewing various whale detection technologies, including acoustic buoys and gliders, which can detect and identify right whales and other whale species in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and elsewhere.

Associated links

Contacts

Media Relations
Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
613-990-7537
Media.xncr@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Vincent Hughes
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
613‑992‑3474
Vincent.Hughes@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor, Research
Dalhousie University
902-494-4148
michele.charlton@dal.ca

NR-HQ-25E

Internet: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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