About BC Whales

The North Coast Cetacean Society (NCCS), through the BC Whales initiative, is dedicated to the preservation and understanding of whales along the entire coast of British Columbia. Our mission is to conduct effective, respectful research, and to inspire protection efforts for whales by collaborating closely with coastal First Nations communities and developing partnerships with conservation minded organizations and people. We aim to uncover the complex habitat and social needs of whales to ensure their survival and continued recovery within BC waters.


We follow a philosophy of designing non-intrusive research methods, which always considers each whale’s experience.


To meet such needs, we conduct research by observing behaviors from land, using permitted drone technology, and survey methods that enable us to collect useful data without interfering with the daily lives of whales.

We have chosen to live and work in extremely remote conditions, within the core habitat of orca, humpback whales, and fin whales. This way of living and learning together with whales stems from our lifetime commitment of stewardship by helping maintain a harmonious balance between whales and their natural environment and enriching our collective knowledge through discovery and shared insights.

If there is anything we have learned, it is that we are only just beginning to understand the nutritional, spatial, acoustic, and social needs of whales. It has also become increasingly clear over the years just how distinctly unique the cultural, acoustic, and foraging traditions of each individual whale species are, and that each species has different ecological requirements.

We have also gained greater awareness for the shared sense of awe whales inspire. Many people have shared their personal whale experiences with us, and, though each story is different, the theme remains the same: a moment in time where a person felt completely connected to and aware of the social intelligence of whales.

We welcome you to join us in learning all that we can about some of the most beautiful, iconic, and unique beings that inhabit the BC coast, and the importance of protecting the habitats that will enable the long-term recovery and survival of each whale species.

Our work began over two decades ago with two people, a boat, and the philosophy of immersing to learn. 

Our Story

In 2001, the founders of NCCS traveled to the remote First Nation community of Hartley Bay and asked for permission to build a land-based whale research station within Gitga’at Territory. Not only was this request met with open arms, but community members and elders also shared their traditional knowledge of whales and helped us find the perfect location that would enable researchers to observe, in non-intrusive ways, the behaviours, feeding strategies, and seasonal movements of orca, humpback, and fin whales.

In partnership with the Gitga’at First Nation, Janie Wray established BC Whales with a focus on and commitment to maintaining balanced and healthy environments for whales for generations to come. Today, the Fin Island Research Station, hugs the rocky shoreline of Fin Island, British Columbia, and helps us fulfill such a commitment. Perched on stilts and designed to have more windows than walls, this remarkable research facility offers a panoramic view of the ocean, and serves as both a lookout and a sanctuary for the study of orcas, humpback whales, and fin whales.

A message from Janie Wray

We at the North Coast Cetacean Society, operating under the BC Whales initiative, wish to extend our deepest gratitude for your unwavering support. Your generosity and commitment have been instrumental in advancing our mission to research, protect, and understand the majestic cetaceans along the northern coast of British Columbia.