2015 Research Award – Gray Whale Society

The Board of the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust (CBT) is pleased to announce the Pacific Wildlife Foundation as the recipient of the 2015 CBT $20,000 Research Award for their research proposal on Gray Whale Society.


Dr. Jim Darling receiving the 2015 CBT Research Award from CBT Executive Director Rebecca Hurwitz.

Dr. Jim Darling, the principal investigator for the project, will use the research funds to analyze over 40 years of local gray whale sightings and 20 years of DNA samples to further develop his theory on gray whale social structure. “There is virtually nothing known about the social organization of gray whales- or for that matter any baleen whale”, explains Darling. “This may sound like an exaggeration – it’s not. If this subject is mentioned at all in books or papers, the gist is there is no social organization beyond the short connection between mother and calf prior to weaning. This is one of those cases where – because we do not know anything about it – we presume it does not exist.”

Gray Whale Fluke

The CBT’s Research Coordinator, Dr. Laura Loucks, said that 8 very high quality grant applications were submitted from a wide range of researchers, representing several University faculties and local conservation organizations. This is the first time the CBT has offered this award and would like to acknowledge the important contribution of the CBT Research and Environment Committee who developed the criteria for this year’s award. “Supporting scientific research is a key objective of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve program,” said Rebecca Hurwitz, CBT’s Executive Director. “We hope to make this new award a regular part of our granting program.”

Applications were reviewed by a local Technical Review Committee, a subset of the CBT Research and Environment Committee. After reaching consensus, their recommendation was made to the CBT Board of Directors and approved at the Sept. 10 Board meeting in Ahousaht.“We were very impressed by the number of high quality proposals submitted and especially proud of the caliber of research conducted by our local scientists and researchers,” said Loucks. “There is so much we can learn from the long term observations and analysis of local wildlife populations and behaviour.”

“The CBT would like to thank the members of the Technical Review Committee for their hard work in reviewing the applications,” said Loucks. “While it was difficult to choose only one research grant application, this team was well prepared and very thoughtful in their deliberations.”