The following are some Frequently Asked Questions about the BC Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program. For more information have a look through our website, or phone us at 604-659-3430. 


What is the BC Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program?

The BC Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program, launched in 1992 by the Vancouver Aquarium, raises funds to support ground-breaking research on wild killer whales - research that is proving essential in the effort to protect these magnificent animals and their habitat.  All proceeds directly support research and conservation of wild killer whales.


What does the money raised by the program go towards?

Funds are used to support basic and conservation-oriented research on wild killer whales and the marine mammals that they interact with—and sometimes prey on—in their marine environment.  A substantial portion of funding goes towards the Aquarium contribution to an annual photo-identification census, begun in 1973.  By determining how many new calves are born each year and how many animals die, we can monitor the general health of these populations, and identify potential threats.  Other ongoing projects include the investigations of killer whale distribution and habitat use, mating systems and inbreeding avoidance, population genetics and identifying unique populations. 


Why is the program so important and why should people support it?

Studying killer whales in the wild is expensive work.  Travel, equipment, boat maintenance and supplies, and fuel are some of the costs faced by researchers in the field.  After the field season there are expenses for lab fees and supplies, software and student stipends.  By becoming a member of the BC Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program, you will help defray these costs and become a key partner in the killer whale research effort.  As boat traffic and pollution increase in the waters frequented by the whales, and salmon stocks continue to decline, it is clear that the habitat of the whales is seriously threatened.  In order to determine where the whales go when we are unable to track them, we must continue to monitor the status of the resident population.


Can I choose my own whale?

Yes.  There are over 120 whales to choose from ranging in age from 3 years old to 77 years old.


Where do the whales get their names?

Can I name my own whale? Most of the whales are named after specific places off the coast of British Columbia, such as Kelsey (A24) who was named after Kelsey Bay in Johnstone Strait.  Some of the whales have been given names because of a unique physical feature such as Top Notch (A5) which has a large notch at the top of his dorsal fin. All the whales are given names when they are added to the adoption program by the researchers who first encounter them, so adopters will not be able to name their own whale.


How much does each package cost and what do I get in return?

The basic adoption package is $64.  The adoption package contains a photograph and biography of the whale, a certificate of adoption, the CD, Blackfish Sound, which features killer whale sounds (narrated by Dr. John Ford, there is no music), and our current newsletter, the Blackfish Sounder.  The one-year membership entitles you to receive our next newsletter in the spring.  The newsletter keeps you up to date on the past year’s research findings and news.  Basically, you will receive two newsletters in the first year and, upon renewal, one newsletter in subsequent years.  To renew a membership, the cost is $45.  A pod adoption is $50 per whale with a minimum of 3 whales in a pod.  This package contains everything that is in the basic package (with ID photos and biographies of each whale) plus the book “Transient Killer Whales” by Dr. John Ford and all our past issues of the Blackfish Sounder.  A Discovery Package is $120 per whale.  This package contains everything that is in the basic package plus the book “Killer Whales” and all our past issues of the Blackfish Sounder. A Research Patron Package is $500 per whale. This package contains everything that is in the Discovery package plus a killer whale print.


How long will it take for me to get my package and how much does shipping cost?

Processing and delivery is approximately 2 weeks within Canada and 2-4 weeks in the US and Internationally.  If the retail package is purchased in the Vancouver Aquarium Giftshop, there is no shipping charge. If a complete package is sent in the mail, the shipping costs are $7 in B.C., $10 outside B.C. but within Canada and $16 to the US and International.


Are there other ways for me to order my adoption?

Yes! Adoption Packages can be purchased directly online at  You can also phone the adoption program office at (604) 659-3430 or download a copy of the application form  and send it in the mail. We accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express as well as cheques and money orders (Canadian funds only). 


Will I be able to see my whale someday?

Maybe, if luck is on your side. But it is simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time. All of the whales in the adoption program live off the coast of British Columbia and are either northern residents or transients.  The best time and place to view these whales is between the months of June and November off the shore of Northern Vancouver Island.  However, there is no quarantee that you will see “your” whale or pod.