Fin whales of the Gitga’at First Nation: Site fidelity, distribution, and abundance within a proposed shipping lane
A rare inland population of fin whale uses the remote Kitimat Fjord System (KFS) in northern British Columbia (in the marine territory of the Gitga’at First Nation). This is the only fjord system, both historically and currently, that this predominantly offshore species has used within Canadian waters. Fin whales returned to the KFS only recently, at the same time as industrial development planning accelerated for northern BC coast. Up-to-date information on the population size, habitat use, and site fidelity of this peculiar aggregation of fin whales is needed in order to effectively plan for and manage the potential impacts of increased marine shipping within the KFS. Here we propose to consolidate and analyze 15 years of unpublished archived observations and photo-identification records of fin whales within the KFS, with a particular focus upon the intersection of our findings with the successful management of shipping traffic within the marine territory of the Gitga’at First Nation.