Estimating Relative Trends in Cetacean Abundance from Data Collected for an Opportunistic Sightings Network
British Columbia’s coastline is home to eighteen species of cetaceans (such as whales, dolphins and porpoises) and three species of sea turtles. Nine of these species are at risk of extinction. To conserve them, it is crucial to learn more about their distribution/abundance and habitat use. The British Columbia Cetaceans Sightings Network (BCCSN) was established to gather sightings of these species from a network of mariners and coastal citizens. Since then, the BCCSN has received thousands of sightings from hundreds of observers up and down the coast. The objective of this research project is to estimate temporal trends in relative abundance and distribution of cetaceans commonly found in the waters of north-eastern Vancouver Island, using the sightings collected by one of the BCCSN observers, Straightwatch.