The Cape Breton Pilot Whale Project (CBPWP) is a long-term study on the social structure and vocalizations of a population of long-finned pilot whales found off the northwestern coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. Founded in 1998 by members of the Whitehead Lab from Dalhousie University, this project is the world’s longest running study focused on this species.
We work primarily from the port of Bay St. Lawrence in partnership with local whale-watch operators, returning every summer to collect photographic, behavioural, acoustic, and environmental data on free-ranging pilot whales. The CBPWP database contains over 2000 individuals, 30-40% of whom are seen annually. This yearly return allows us to collect valuable data, important for forming a baseline knowledge of this species in Canadian waters.
Though our research is mainly focuses on pilot whales, we also make an effort collect data on any other cetacean species we encounter, as well as endangered leatherback turtles that are found in the area during the late summer and fall months.
Because of the unique partnership we have with a local whale-watching company, we are also involved in education and outreach with those who come aboard to see the whales.