Southern Resident Killer Whale Surveillance Program

CLIENT: T’Sou-ke First Nation
DATE: Summer 2020 – March 2023

Project Overview

Shift Environmental is working hand-in-hand with T’sou-ke First Nation to develop novel technologies for surveillance of the Southern Resident Killer Whale population. The program will build opportunities for collaboration in the use of research space and equipment for other researchers. The SRKW Surveillance Program is a joint marine ecosystems protection project developed between federal funders, stakeholders, and SṈE₭E (Sna-Qua; Heron; The Watchman), the Indigenous Guardian program created by T’Sou-ke Nation. The program activities will connect a variety of collaborators, including academics, innovators, non-governmental organizations, traditional knowledge holders, community members, and Indigenous youth. This work will be embedded in the environment and traditional cultural practices of the T’Sou-ke Nation. The contributions of this project will enable both Indigenous and non-Indigenous scientists and knowledge holders to cultivate an intimate understanding of the natural processes and human impacts on the SRKW population and marine ecosystem. Using UAV data, acoustic information, and ship-based observations, SṈE₭E will collect, detect, track, classify, identify, monitor marine-related activities, enabling them to provide reports and advisory services designed to protect SRKW. Measurable objectives include Nation capacities, jobs, training, and the development of geospatial data portals for SRKW intelligence.


  • $1.1M in funding secured over 2 years
  • Created a Whale App (Design and Development) for Conservation and Protection of SRKW
  • Built out Data Acquisition, Analysis and Reporting via web-based portal
  • Facilitating Marine Mammal Observer Training
  • Developed field tools for observing and accurately reporting SRKW positions and whale interactions using range finding and imaging techniques.
  • Supported acquisition of Marine Guardian Vessel
As we spend our time monitoring and observing we “see” the change as we always have. This gear gets us and our senses back on the water to watch it carefully like we have for millenia.

– Chief Planes T’Sou-ke Nation

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