T124, T124E, T036, T036B, and T099Photo by John Forde, 2014 


The research SIMRS does with Bigg’s killer whales evolved after Rod Palm spent several hobby years taking identification photos for Dr. Michael Bigg who had come up with the concept that individual killer whales could be distinguished by photo ID. It soon became apparent that more whales were spending a lot more time in Clayoquot Sound than was previously suspected. This prompted Rod to launch the society on January 1, 1991 as a platform for a more serious monitoring and recording program. The results of this work are forwarded to the Pacific Biological Station where the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) biologists identify the individuals and utilize the data for Pacific northwest whale population studies. With such high volumes of images being sent in from along the coast, many of the identifications are now done with advanced computer software programs that are capable of analyzing the features such as the saddle patch and dorsal fin. Some of our identifications are still made by locals on the water using our identification catalogue!  

As the study has evolved, we now have a network of local people out on the water submitting images and behavioural data for killer whales observed in the area. Killer whales and other marine sightings are reported to SIMRS over channel 18A on the VHF radio or through the iNaturalist App. Having so many eyes on the water has allowed us to produce information on individuals, frequency of visitation, routes traveled, and behaviour of Bigg’s Killer Whales in Clayoquot Sound. 

Download the app and start reporting your sightings!

Bigg's Killer Whales in Clayoquot Sound: A field guide

We have recently printed our latest edition of our Bigg's Killer Whale Identification Catalogue. This newest edition features 79 new individuals new to this area, colour images, new stories from locals, and an educational infographic. We would like to thank all of our volunteers on the water contributing to the reasearch and all of our sponsors!

Cover photo by Josh Lewis

 The book can be purchased at the following locations:

Jamie's Whaling Station

The Whale Centre

Ocean Outfitters

Ucluelet Aquarium

Mermaid Tales Bookshop

or contact us at strawberryislemarineresearch@gmail.com

Looking for a digital copy? Hang tight! We are in the process of loading the PDF onto our website for purchase.