In action: measuring temperature, depth and salinity., Maya Chartier
In action: measuring temperature, depth and salinity. © Maya Chartier

Western Arctic

WCS Canada's Western Arctic Program is focused on the Arctic marine environment, which is facing major changes like sea ice loss, increased ship traffic, and development pressures.

How we work

Our goal is to change land-use and conservation planning approaches so that they take a more holistic approach to protecting key areas and reducing development impacts instead of relying on piecemeal project approvals that can lead to steadily growing cumulative impacts.

Where we work

, WCS Canada
© WCS Canada

We are working with our international colleagues to address conservation challenges across three nations in Arctic Beringia – the Russian Federation, United States, and Canada – while working with local indigenous governments and communities in both Alaska and Canada.

WCS Canada is particularly involved in working with local Inuvialuit communities to assess potential shipping noise impacts on marine life in the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas as more ships begin to travel through the previously ice-choked Northwest Passage. We are using our findings to put forward specific harm-reduction practices -- such as slowing ships or avoiding migration corridors during key periods -- to both the international Arctic Council and the Canadian government.

Projects

Assessing seal diet and health

Assessing seal diet and health

We are working with Inuit in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to assess seal diets and contaminants as indicators of a changing Arctic ecosystem.

Documenting the impacts of underwater noise

Documenting the impacts of underwater noise

Addressing impacts from shipping and climate change in the western Arctic

Resources


Media coverage

'Like being at a loud rock concert': study looks at how ship noise affects Arctic marine mammals

"Whales are swimming faster when ships are close by ... and we're finding changes in the sound that they're making in their vocalizations," said William Halliday, the lead researcher for the study.
2023-12-26 | CBC

Trois exploratrices, une passion

Maya Chartier travaille comme technicienne de la faune dans l’Arctique pour la Wildlife Conservation Society du Canada. Elle recueille, entre autres, des informations sur les phoques sur les rives de la mer de Beaufort.
2023-12-23 | Radio-Canada

William Halliday on increased shipping in the Beaufort Sea

2023-12-19 | CBC - The Trailbreaker with Hilary Bird

Our team

Stephen Insley

Stephen Insley

 Director of Arctic Conservation

William Halliday

William Halliday

Conservation Scientist/Arctic Acoustics Program Lead

Annika Heimrich

Annika Heimrich

Bioacoustic Analyst

Maya Chartier

Maya Chartier

 Wildlife Technician

Najeem  Shajahan

Najeem  Shajahan

 Post-Doctoral Fellow, Arctic acoustics

Niki Diogou

Niki Diogou

 Postdoctoral Fellow


Stories and op-eds

Scouting for Sound in the Arctic Depths
2023-11-15

Scouting for Sound in the Arctic Depths

Our Western Arctic team is tracking the performance of a new listening device – a “glider” that can roam beneath the water’s surface picking up sounds and other ocean state information.
William Halliday
Worth the wait: Encountering bowhead whales in Canada’s Arctic
2023-03-20

Worth the wait: Encountering bowhead whales in Canada’s Arctic

We arrived in Igloolik hoping to find community members with boats to hire to take us out to find bowhead whales.
A library full of sound: How a new collection of underwater sounds will help protect marine life
2022-05-16

A library full of sound: How a new collection of underwater sounds will help protect marine life

Forget that rule about keeping quiet in the library. I want my library to be full of noise, including sounds from a world that is mostly invisible to human eyes: the ocean.
William Halliday