The B.C. Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program is a program of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, a non-profit organization. All contributions go directly to research and conservation of killer whales in the wild. Contributions are tax-deductible both in Canada and the USA to the extent of the law.  

About The 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.  Funds raised through the program mainly support research on wild killer whales, but also includes other marine mammals that killer whales interact with – and sometimes prey on – in their marine environment. 

Studying killer whales in the wild is expensive work.  Travel, equipment, boat supplies and maintenance are some of the costs faced by researchers in the field.  After the field season there are expenses for lab supplies and fees, software, student stipends and many other items.  A membership in the BC Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program directly helps to offset these costs and make research possible. Download a copy of our BROCHURE.

How will my adoption help wild killer whales? 

Learning everything we can about killer whales is the best way to protect them.
• How do new pods form?
• Where do resident killer whales go in the winter months?
• Why do 50 per cent of newborns die in their first year?
• How do killer whale dialects develop over time?
• Are killer whales particularly susceptible to environmental toxins?
• Is increased boat traffic affecting killer whale behaviour?

Researchers in Canada and the U.S. have been investigating groups of killer whales that frequent the area annually for more than 35 years and are trying to answer these questions and others.

Some of the projects funded by the program include:

Population genetics: Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre has been using DNA analysis to answer questions like how do resident killer whales avoid inbreeding and how do female killer whales know how to choose a mate.

Acoustics: Killer whales rely on sound to communicate and to navigate through the water. Researchers are studying the sounds killer whales make to learn more about their social structure and monitor their movements along the B.C. coast.

Photo-identification: Photo-identification is one of the most useful tools of whale biologists. It is an invaluable method of monitoring the health of British Columbia's killer whale populations.

Marine Mammal Conservation: Read about many of the research and conservation projects sponsored by the Adoption Program in back issues of our annual research newsletter, the Blackfish Sounder.  In the 2007 edition, for example, you'll find details of an international conference on fisheries depredation (raiding of fishing gear) by killer whales and sperm whales, and research into the causes of a massive sea otter decline in Alaska.  By the way, the most recent edition of the Blackfish Sounder is only available to Adoption Program Members!