A Toonie To Save Killer Whales

Imagine setting off for a whale-watching tour from Victoria, BC, to explore the Salish Sea, also known as the Georgia-Puget Basin. You know you’re bound to spot some wildlife, as this body of water is home to the most diverse marine species and inhabitants in the world, including killer whales, migrating humpback and gray whales, porpoise, dolphin, seal, sea lions, birds and many other marine species.

Photo by Robert Pitman.

On this day, the skies are blue, the sea is calm, you’re gazing out at the horizon and… look there! Your first sighting of a killer whale in nature. The thrill, as anyone who’s seen such beauty knows, is elating.

To help conserve the increasingly threatened southern resident killer whale, Eagle Wing Tours recently introduced a new $2 per passenger ‘Whale and Wildlife’ sustainability fee. The company will donate $1 from each toonie collected to the Center for Whale Research, a non-profit organization dedicated to the long-term study and conservation of the endangered killer whale, or orca whale, in western Washington State and BC, and $1 to the Pacific Salmon Foundation, a non-profit group that works to protect, conserve and rebuild wild Pacific salmon populations. Eagle Wing supports both of these organizations through its commitment to 1% for the Planet.

Photo by Kevstan via Wikimedia Commons.

Funds raised for the Pacific Salmon Foundation will go to the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, a five-year ecosystem research and habitat restoration program aimed at increasing the production of Chinook, coho and steelhead in the Salish Sea. This project is the largest and most significant research effort of its kind in the shared water of Washington and BC. Researchers will, for the first time, undertake a study of all biological and environmental factors simultaneously to better understand the limits to salmon production and the workings of this marine ecosystem. It is a bilateral partnership with Seattle-based Long Live the Kings.

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Eagle Wing Tours is the first whale-watching company in Victoria to launch a sustainability fee. “We believe it is everyone’s obligation and responsibility to do what they can to support the sustainability of wildlife,” said Eagle Wing Tours co-owner Brett Soberg. “The Salish Sea has the world’s highest concentration of orcas, and it’s important that we keep it that way. Implementing this fee enables us to make a positive contribution to programs that will make a difference for the overall health and wellness of the whales and surrounding Salish Sea ecosystems.”

“I commend Eagle Wing Tours for acknowledging a responsibility to support the marine health of the Salish Sea,” said Dr. Brian Riddell, president and CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation. “Chinook salmon form a major part of the diet of killer whales, yet Chinook numbers from many populations in the Salish Sea have been depressed for the decades. We hope the example Eagle Wing is setting will encourage similar businesses that depend on a healthy ecosystem in the Strait of Georgia to do the same.”

Bill Reid’s Killer Whale (1986). Courtesy Royal British Columbia Museum.

About Eagle Wing Tours

Since starting Eagle Wing Tours in 2005, Brett Soberg and his business partner, Don Stewart, have held a deep respect for the marine environment. The company goes to great lengths to minimize the environmental impact of every aspect of its operations, from using clean Volvo diesel engines that provide the lowest emission rating of any whale-watching company in Victoria, to adopting a unique scarab and catamaran design for their vessels that reduces engine noise and minimizes underwater sound, wake and shoreline erosion.

Eagle Wing Tours has won multiple awards for its environmental efforts, including its support for the global ‘1% for the Planet’ movement, and for being Canada’s first and only whale-watching company to achieve carbon neutrality by offsetting all corporate greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2012, the company has raised $32,000 that has been donated to non-profit groups dedicated to the pursuit of environmental sustainability.The company projects $50,000 in donations in 2014.

Reblogged from One Percent for the Planet.