Rangefinder paper published


This summer the Bangarang rangefinder design took its place among the peer-reviewed and the published. What delights me most about this is that the list of co-authors who made this happen are much more than co-authors: they are friends and family. Thanks Katie, Keri and dad, and thanks Marine Ornithology for taking us on!

A full citation and link to the paper is available on our Publications page.

Humpback Drive-By

A new video is up!  A thrilling memory from the 2015 season. This and other research moments are available here!

Humpback Drive-By from RV Bangarang on Vimeo.

A group of bubble-net feeding humpback whales charges by the Bangarang as it drifts and listens using the towed hydrophone array. Some amazing things happen when you turn the engine off and just wait. Video by Anne Simonis, ’15 Bangaranger and a formidable acoustic ecologist.


New film from Luke Padgett

Bangarang – Crew Briefing from Luke Padgett on Vimeo.

Luke is just too good. Everything he does is just too good. Please spread the word on this video — Luke is sitting on tons more great footage from his time onboard this last season, and if this video gets a good response it would be worth his while to make more featurettes!

Thanks, Luke.

This and other Bangarang featurettes can be found here.

Rangefinder paper submitted


Just submitted this paper on the design of the Bangarang rangefinder, a custom handheld tool that can be used to estimate seabird survey strips in confined channels. We’ll see what Marine Ornithology says! I was proud to work with this team of authors, all veteran Bangarangers: Keri Bryan Watson, Katie Qualls, and Mike Keen.

This and other research products can be found here.



Gitga’at Oceanographic Initiative

Since its inception, the Bangarang project’s goal was to develop world-class research methods, customized to the Kitimat Fjord System, so that local residents can collect long-term oceanographic data. This year, as the Bangarang’s final season of fieldwork wrapped up, we made the big transfer. Here’s the article that just appeared in the latest Gitga’at Guardian newsletter.

Screenshot 2016-02-06 14.17.26

Next Steps for the Gitga’at Oceanographic Initiative

by Eric Keen

In late October the Guardian Watchmen boarded the newly re-powered Gitga’at Provider to begin training for a major new marine research project. Over several days, the GWs learned new methods in assessing the status of whales, seabirds, fish and plankton. These methods will be used by GWs on surveys that systematically cover the Gitga’at marine territory. The 10-15 day surveys are scheduled to occur every two months for many years to come.


Deploying the CTD aboard the Gitga’at Provider

The training marked an important juncture in the Gitga’at Oceanographic Initiative (GOI), a GW effort to conduct long-term, world-class monitoring of their marine territory. Data from the GOI surveys will be a valuable tool in predicting changes to the marine environment (such as climate change) and defending the territory against future proposals for industrial development. GOI is an unprecedented research effort among coastal First Nations, and could serve as a model that inspires other nations to take high-quality marine monitoring into their own hands.


Bangaranger and Gitga’at data analyst Kim-Ly Thompson provides tutorials on visual survey protocols atop the cabin of the Gitga’at Provider.

The GOI surveys will use world-class oceanographic equipment, including a “water column profiler” that samples many climate indicators from the sea surface down to the seafloor: water temperature, salinity, oxygen content, and algae pigments (which indicate how productive the waters are). A zooplankton net will be used to collect and count the large diversity of microscopic animals adrift in the water. There is also a scientific echosounder, a fishfinder that maps the schools of fish and plankton in the water as the Provider steams along. GWs will use a customized data entry app to record all of the sightings and samples they collect along the way.
The October training involved Eric Keen, a graduate student from Scripps Oceanography in USA. Eric spent the last 3 summers in Gitga’at waters, collecting these kinds of data in partnership with the GWs and Whale Point. In this time he developed the methods that are now being used for the Provider surveys.

Mary Reese carefully marks measurements on her custom handheld seabird rangefinder.

Summer 2015 was Keen’s third and final season of fieldwork in Gitga’at waters. He hopes that the last three years of effort will result in deepened understanding and better protection of the Gitga’at territory’s marine ecosystem. Eric wishes to thank everyone in the Gitga’at community for their friendliness and support. He consider it an immense privilege to work within and on behalf of Gitga’at waters.

The portable “Gitga’at Data Box” Eric built, to house data entry tablet with custom Gitga’at software, serial-to-USB converter, echosounder, inverters, fuse blocks, etc., so that data entry technology is transferrable between Gitga’at vessels.

End of season, end of fieldwork


On the way down the coast, Bunker gave the Bangarang some new tats.

It was a 3 day trip from the study area down the Shearwater marina, near Bella Bella, where the Bangarang will hibernate for the winter. Nicole and Bunker were wonderful company on the pensive and chilly trip down in late October.  The season is over, the project’s fieldwork is over, and I wonder how long it will take for that to sink in.


“Now, stay.”


Season 3, Leg 5 complete

Check out the data report here, complete with the most memorable images from the leg.


  • 5th and final circuit of the season complete!
  • Humpbacks have moved inland around Gribbell Island!
  • Incredible sh schools and bait ball feeding frenzies throughout fjord system.
  • Fin whales common and hungry in central Squally.
  • Shearwaters and storm-petrels take Squally by storm, but Cassin’s rare to absent again.
  • Third and final season of fieldwork comes to a close.

These and other field reports can also be found here.

Season 3, Leg 4 complete

Check out the data report here, complete with the most memorable images from the leg.


  • Completion of third oceanographic circuit (fourth circuit of surveys).
  • Incredible humpback densities and krill swarms in Whale Channel!
  • Many more n whales arrive, and a minke whale is seen in Caamano.
  • Strongest offshore-inshore gradients yet in surface salinity and temperature.
  • Shearwaters and cormorants arrive, but Cassin’s rare to absent again.

This and other field reports can also be found here.