Chat with us, powered by LiveChat
  • Marine Biology
  • North America
  • HS

British Columbia Marine Mammal Studies

Explorer

16 Reviews
Overview

This expert-led expedition goes way beyond any ordinary whale watch tour. Kayak with humpbacks and orcas in their natural habitat. Then live and work at a remote biological field station.

Experience a close encounter of the marine mammal kind. On and around dramatic Vancouver Island, BC, witness the harbor seals, porpoises, dolphins, sea lions and whales that come here to play in a wondrous natural playground. Learn about these animals as you kayak through their tranquil home waters of the Johnstone Straight. Camp on the beach and hear their songs off in the distance. Hunt for knowledge alongside marine scientists, researchers and naturalist guides in stunning wilderness settings. Turn their ecosystems inside out and help make them better when you're done. It's challenging. It's up close. It's personal. It's unlike anything else back home.

Dates Grades Length Tuition Availability
June 24 - July 15 HS 22 days $6,180 Open
July 20 - August 10 HS 22 days $6,180 Open
Earn & Learn
British Columbia Marine Mammal Studies Earn & Learn

Earn & Learn

Broadreach combines your thirst for fun and adventure with tangible skill development, real-world educational opportunities and a genuine commitment to service. While on program, you’ll earn documented community service hours and even college credits. It’s what we call “Earn & Learn,” and it’s what you’ll take home as evidence of your many accomplishments. British Columbia Marine Mammal Studies offers college credits through Lesley University. Additionally, students earn 5 hours of documented community service.

EXPERIENCE REQUIRED:
  • High school biology preferred
ACADEMICS & COLLEGE CREDIT
Course Description

This course is a survey of the natural history, biology, behavior, threats and conservation of marine mammals in British Columbia. Coursework will consist of both academic discussions and field work designed to introduce students to the methods and equipment that marine mammal researchers commonly use. Students will be working and studying at a field research station and serving as naturalists-in-training while kayaking the Deer Group Island searching for orcas.

Course Objectives
  • Gain an in-depth knowledge of the local marine mammal populations
  • A strong background in the current issues surrounding these populations
  • Insight into the “industry” of eco-tourism
  • The course further investigates the cultures of local communities on the coast
  • The history and present day whaling objectives of the U’mista and Ou’hai’at First Nations group
  • History and present issues surrounding the fishing industry from canneries to fish farms
  • Ability to interpret animals natural behaviors found in the wild
COMMUNITY SERVICE

Through service, gain a more meaningful connection to the cultures and communities you explore while taking an active role to address important global issues at the local level. While in British Columbia, work with the Whale Interpretive Center, a leading field research station and a local non-profit on environmental and conservation projects. The projects give you the opportunity to use the methods learned in class to make real-life scientific contributions.

  • Collect data on local marine mammals
  • Assist in an ongoing research project about salmon lice populations
  • Plant local species and add gravel alongside recently disturbed salmon habitats
  • Explore inter tidal ecosystems as you collect garbage and debris off local beaches

5 Service Hours

3 College Credits

British Columbia Marine Mammal Studies Itinerary

Itinerary

marine mammal studies
1

Spend your first evening getting to know each other in Vancouver before transferring to Nanaimo the next day to suit up in your snorkel gear and get up close and personal with the harbor seals of Snake Island. Next, we make our way to Telegraph Cove, a historic fishing village and the heart of Vancouver Island’s whale watching industry. We learn from local naturalists and researchers as we head out on whale watching boats to observe orcas, humpbacks and other marine mammals up close. We are now official naturalists-in-training and must act accordingly. Find your way to the Whale Interpretive Center (WIC) in Telegraph Cove to do meaningful conservation work that will ultimately help increase public awareness of the needs of these incredible creatures and protect their habitats for years to come. If you haven’t participated in bone cleaning or seen the decomposition of a whale specimen, as it ultimately becomes a skeleton, get ready. Our new found knowledge of marine mammals is put to use on a remote island kayak adventure in the Johnstone Strait. Watch for spyhopping orcas. Marvel as your guides lift sea urchins to the surface for you to examine and introduce you to the taste of fresh kelp. Days are spent rattling off species we can now identify with ease.

marine biology summer program
2

Settle in at our home for the next few days, a leading field research station nestled in a cove of lush green pines and firs. Here we begin our formal studies of marine mammals with resident faculty and researchers. In the classroom and labs, we learn about oceanography and the ecology of the whales, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins and seals found on Canada’s Pacific coast. In the field and on the water, we witness these magnificent creatures up close alongside marine mammal scientists, getting familiar with the equipment and methods that these researchers use. We conduct our own field studies, learning the significance of each species in the ecosystems they inhabit. Do plankton tows in Broughton Archipelago, comb tide pools, gather data and run marine mammal surveys aboard the Buffer Zone Too. All this hands-on work leads to a deep understanding of these local marine mammal populations and provides you with all the resources needed to conduct your very own research project.

marine biology summer programs high school
3

Make your way to Tofino, a small town on the coast where you’ll travel by boat to your second local research station across the Clayoquot Sound. Spend time learning from the station’s professional research and education coordinators about the projects they currently are working on. Head out for grey whale monitoring and participate in plankton tows. Learn about marine mammals’ social structure, mating systems and communication before heading back to the mainland and transferring down to Bamfield, a quiet town nestled beside the Deer Group Islands.

marine biology summer programs
4

Set off on a challenging sea kayaking expedition to one of the world’s most untouched settings, the rugged Deer Island Group in Barkley Sound. By day, survey the natural history, biology, behavior and threats to the marine mammals that converge in this area. Camp on remote islands at night. Everything you’ve learned about marine mammals comes to life as we spot curious seals, keeping our eyes peeled for breaching whales, schools of Pacific white-sided dolphins and orcas. Make your way back to Vancouver for your final night where, instead of a typical hotel, you’ll be lulled to sleep by beluga whales at the local aquarium. These final days are centered on helping us carry home the philosophy that it’s possible to study the wild without interfering with it. It’s a philosophy we carry with us long after the trip ends.

marine biology summer camps
  • Trip Highlights

  • Study marine mammals in their natural habitat
  • Participate in life and science at a research field station
  • Work alongside marine biologists to protect ocean diversity
  • Assist with whale behavior research
  • Spot wildlife while sea kayaking along the rugged coast
  • Explore the remote islands and villages of Vancouver
British Columbia Marine Mammal Studies Reviews & Testimonials

Reviews & Testimonials

Alyssa M. from Lafayette, LA

This was the most amazing, incredible experience and I will treasure every second for many years to come. I’ve made friends from all over the place and learned so much. From whale watching to kayaking to camping in the most beautiful place, every day was an adventure. I definitely didn’t want to leave! If you like marine mammals and being outside, British Columbia is the place to be- and this program is the absolute best way to experience it!

Rita Mellema

My daughter departed for her trip excited but apprehensive. She came back with a new self confidence and a wonderful set of friends she refers to as her “Broadreach family”. She loved the outdoors experience and enjoyed sharing her knowledge of camping and boating. She formed an amazing bond with the students in her program. The staff was caring and very competent, and the program seemed very safe. I would highly recommend this program if your child is ready to take an adventure and spread their wings.

Ellie L. from Severna Park, MD

Some may say spending 3 weeks in the middle of nowhere, stranded in the Canadian wilderness, can be a challenge. No wifi, no electronics, no civilization. Quite the contrary. All you need to have a good time is good friends, positive vibes, and an appreciation for the magnificent world we inhabit. Fortunately, I gained all those and so much more on this incredible journey. I will never forget the things I learned (both academic and life lessons) and the amazing things I’ve seen.

Lisa Schloemer from Red Hook, NY

This trip was the perfect means for my daughter to confirm that marine biology is what she really wants to study when she goes to college in two years and has potentially saved our family thousands of tuition dollars spent on the wrong school or wrong curriculum.

Natalia S. from Chicago, IL

If you are interested in marine mammals or even animals in general, then this is the trip for you. I have never seen so many Pacific white-sided dolphins and humpbacks at once! British Columbia is gorgeous and we created memories while kayaking that I will never forget. The lectures/academics were great and should not stop you from doing this trip. We had amazing instructors and I have made so many new friends from all over the world.

Frederick Gale from Dedham, MA

This is the third straight year our daughter has gone on a Broadreach trip, and the trips get better each year. Each one has been unique with new deep friendships forged, an amazing learning experience with appreciation for marine life, and a daughter who returned dramatically more self-confident, poised, capable and independent each time. And very happy.

Jeannie Groskreutz from La Crosse, WI

The Marine Mammal Adventure program my daughter went on was a first class experience with wonderful leaders and an experience she will never forget. “One of the best things I have ever done” is what my daughter said upon returning from her trip.

Kirsten Spray

This experience is something I will always remember! I made great friends and we became really close. The camping and out of doors definitely makes you closer to everyone else on the trip. Definitely worth the money! One of the best experiences I’ve had! If you are thinking about going on this trip, definitely go!

Lee-Ann Ennis

Looking back at all my summers on the water, this trip tipped the scale with best ever marine mammal sightings. We seemed to always be in the right place at the right time to see breaching whales or bow riding porpoises.

Lia Seraydarian

This trip was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Seeing killer whales, dolphins, seals, and hundreds of sea lions was an incredible sight. Kayaking to the sounds of bald eagles chirping was amazing. I learned so much about marine mammals that I will be sure to bring back home with me.

Maddie K. from Kitchener, Ontario

This trip was an unforgettable experience. It has allowed me to participate in new activities, new friendships, see different parts of Canada and expand my knowledge of marine mammals. Aside from the academics, I also had the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons like how to build a proper fire. Overall, I am grateful that I received this opportunity to participate on this program

Thalia P. from Nairobi, Kenya

This whole trip has been an amazing experience! I’ve learned so much and have found some new friendships and all the adventures have been amazing. Seeing orcas for the first time, both kayaking trips, and the beautiful sunsets we experienced at Salmon Coast Field Station were amazing. Overall, this experience was amazing and I hope I can do a program like this again.

Rachael Kobernick from Houston, TX

I won’t look at things in my life the same way again. My Broadreach experience has made me appreciate all the things I have, and I won’t take things for granted. I had the time of my life reconnecting with nature and making good friends at the same time.

Sophia M. from Bloomington, IN

This trip has been the most exciting, frightening, breath-taking, beautiful, heart-throbbing, insane, life-changing, fun, magical, and crazy experience of my life and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Roberta Spray

Kirsten loved the trip. It was a very different experience from her Belize trip with Broadreach the year before, which she also loved. They were just different, in her words. Kirsten learned a lot of camping and kayaking skills on the Vancouver trip, found the academics a bit more stringent (so mom was happy!), and delighted in the fact that the group got very close to each other: “bonded” as she describes. This was due in part to the conditions, the amount of down time, and the counselors’ efforts. Kirsten learned tons about the northern habitat and was happy to see so many forms of mammals, even more than in Belize. The trip helped her ferment her desire to continue marine studies, and the Vancouver experience made her realize it does not have to be in a southern location! The only complaint was the camp food and the second guided experience (not Broadreach) was disorganized.

Fredi Seraydarian

Lia had very positive things to say about the trip. She learned a great deal. She enjoyed the activities (kayaking, hiking, rafting, wildlife watching). The group was very cohesive and bonded well. All good.

British Columbia Marine Mammal Studies FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Question:
What is included in the tuition cost and what additional expenses should I expect?
Answer:
Tuition is all inclusive for instruction, food, accommodations, and activities from the time you arrive in country. However, you are responsible for your airfare, spending money (we suggest about $150-200 depending on the program), any required textbooks, and student expenses such as medical fees. Some trips require scuba gear which can be rented, purchased or in some cases borrowed from Broadreach. Finally, for our high school trips that offer college credit, you can elect to receive an official Lesley University credit transcript for approximately $180 per credit hour.
Question
Are flights included in the program tuition cost?
Answer
Airfare is not included in the program tuition cost, mostly because students join our programs from all over the U.S. and other countries around the world. Some programs also have internal flights which are not included in the program tuition, and we'll provide details on exactly how to book those once you are enrolled.
Question
How does travel work?
Answer
For most programs, we have a few recommended flights and an arrival time range, and we usually give you the option to book flights on your own or through our travel agency partner. A few programs have required group flights, which we set up in advance. Students travel independently, but often meet up along the way, and we collect student itinerary details. Broadreach instructors will be waiting in the arrivals hall of the destination airport to greet each student, and they’ll be wearing special shirts and holding a Broadreach sign. We also mail students Broadreach shirts to wear while traveling which makes it easy for them to identify each other. Typically, making travel arrangements and the actual travel days go very smoothly.
Question
How many students are in a group? What is the male/female ratio?
Answer
The majority of programs will have a maximum of 12 students in a group. We aim for a balance of males and females, but in our experience, the gender ratio plays a small role in the success of each program.
Question
Do most participants come alone or with friends?
Answer
Most participants come alone, so there is no need to be concerned if you don't know anyone else on your program. It's normal to be a little nervous about not knowing other students in advance, but within a day of starting your program you'll be laughing and sharing exciting adventures with new friends.
Question
How does Broadreach address safety?
Answer
Safety is our top priority, and it is something we evaluate from every angle throughout the year. We’re very proud of our safety record over the past 26 years of running international programs for students. There are so many ways to address how we handle safety, including the extensive experience and training of our instructors, the specific locations we choose to visit, the relationships we have established with our local partners, and the 24/7 support we provide our groups. We have extensive program-specific risk management plans and safety standards that we adhere to. We'd be happy to talk about safety in more detail for the program you're considering if you'd like to give our office a call.
Question
Do I need to purchase travel insurance?
Answer
We require that students have at least $100,000 of emergency evacuation coverage and some kind of international medical coverage, as well as coverage for scuba diving for programs that include diving. We offer two different policy options, or if you already have a policy that meets this criteria, we would just collect those policy details after enrollment.
Question
What does tuition protection cover?
Answer
Our Tuition Protection policy covers cancellations for medical reasons up to 100% and for any other reason up to 75% (except for residents of NY state). It’s also a great comprehensive travel insurance policy, including medical coverage, emergency evacuation, travel delay, baggage (loss or delay), etc. The cost of the policy ranges from $319-379 based on the program duration. For more specific coverage details, please call our office.
Question
Will students be able to call home or access the internet?
Answer
Students will call home within a few hours of landing in the destination airport to let parents know they have arrived safely and have met up with the group. For most programs, students will have the option to call home once a week, typically on Sundays. Timing for calling home depends on the schedule of the trip and location. Usually, students call home with the in-country instructor cell phones or via Skype if good internet service is available. If you'd like to learn more about our full communication policy, please call our office.
Question
Who will my instructors be?
Answer
Broadreach instructors are highly experienced, passionate, energetic and supportive. The average age of our instructors is 28 years old, and depending on the program, they meet specific qualifications (a Master’s degree in the subject area, PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor certification, foreign language fluency, Wilderness First Responder certification, etc).
Question
Do your programs accommodate food preferences or food allergies?
Answer
We do our best to accommodate allergies and food preferences but we consider the situation, country and the program to determine whether it will be a good fit for the specific dietary restriction. It’s important that you let Broadreach know well in advance of any food preferences or allergies so we can determine whether your restrictions will work on your program.
Question
Can I contact Broadreach alumni families for more information?
Answer
Absolutely! Just call our office and we can put you in touch with past participants who have joined the programs that interest you. Our alumni families are happy to share their first-person experiences.
Question
When is the application deadline?
Answer
We accept applications on a rolling basis until each session is full. So, the sooner you enroll, the greater chance you'll have to get into your first choice program and session! Some of our most popular program sessions fill as early as the fall.
Question
How does payment work? Is the deposit or tuition refundable?
Answer
We require a non-refundable deposit of $1000 to lock in your spot, and then the final balance can be spread out and paid in a few different ways. The final payment is requested by about 3 months before departure. Our optional tuition protection plan covers cancellations for medical reasons up to 100% and cancellations for any other reason up to 75% (except for residents of NY state).
Question
What should I pack?
Answer
We provide an extensive packing list for each program that we revise every year based on student and instructor feedback, and most of the items you probably have already. If you’d like to look at a packing list for a certain program, just let us know and we can email the most current version to you.
Question
Where will we be staying?
Answer
Accommodations vary by program, from private villas to jungle cabins to beach cabanas to research stations. We love staying in smaller local accommodations with authentic character rather than big chains, and we rarely camp.
Question
What is the difference between discovery/explorer/expedition level?
Answer
Our levels are loose guidelines to help families determine which programs might be the best fit. Discovery level programs do not require any prior experience and are great first-Broadreach options. Explorer level programs build on existing skills and knowledge, and often delve deeper into the program focus. Expedition level programs are usually in more remote or challenging locations, require prior experience, and often include more student ownership of the experience.
Question
Do you offer any discounts?
Answer
In the fall, we have a few different early enrollment discounts– please call our office for more information. We also offer a 5% discount on the second enrollment from the same immediate family in a summer. This offer is available to an individual student or siblings. The 5% discount will be applied to the program of lesser cost, and cannot be combined with any other discounts.
Question
Do you offer scholarships?
Answer
We do offer some scholarships through the Broadreach Foundation. Please visit www.broadreachfoundation.org for more information and to apply online for scholarships.
Question
What is included in the tuition cost and what additional expenses should I expect?
Answer
Trip tuition is all inclusive for instruction, college credit, food, accommodation and activities from the time you arrive on location. However, you are responsible for your airfare, spending money (we suggest about $150-200), any required textbooks, and student expenses such as medical fees and special travel. Some trips require scuba gear which can be rented, purchased or in some cases borrowed from Broadreach.
Question
Are flights included in the program tuition cost?
Answer
Airfare is not included in the program tuition cost, mostly because students join our programs from all over the U.S. and other countries around the world. Some programs also have internal flights which are not included in the program tuition, and we'll provide details on exactly how to book those once you are enrolled.
Question
How does travel work?
Answer
For most programs, we have a few recommended flights and an arrival time range, and we usually give you the option to book flights on your own or through our travel agency partner. A few programs have required group flights, which we set up in advance. Students travel independently, but often meet up along the way, and we collect student itinerary details. Broadreach instructors will be waiting in the arrivals hall of the destination airport to greet each student, and they’ll be wearing special shirts and holding a Broadreach sign. We also mail students Broadreach shirts to wear while traveling which makes it easy for them to identify each other. Typically, making travel arrangements and the actual travel days go very smoothly.
Question
When is the application deadline?
Answer
We accept applications on a rolling basis until each session is full. So, the sooner you enroll, the greater chance you'll have to get into your first choice program and session! Some of our most popular program sessions fill as early as the fall.
Question
What is the application process?
Answer
Step one: submit your initial application online with a $35 application fee. If there is space, you can secure your spot with a $1000 deposit while you complete the secondary application. Step two: we will send you login details to complete your secondary application (academic reference, personal statement, interview, transcript). Once we accept your secondary application pieces and you've paid your deposit, your place on the program is secured!
Question
What do the academics involve? What if I don’t take the program for credit?
Answer
Academics will vary by program but usually include journals, discussions, lectures, research projects, and a midterm and final exam. We expect all of our students to participate fully in the academic course work on our programs, regardless of whether they have chosen to take it for official college credit.
Question
How do college credits work? Where are those credits accepted?
Answer
We partner with Lesley University in Cambridge, MA to offer college credit for our academic high school and college programs. Those credits are widely accepted at colleges and universities all over North America, and we can often let you know if an alumni student has transferred those credits to a specific school in the past.
Question
How many students are in a group? What is the male/female ratio?
Answer
The majority of programs will have a maximum of 12 students in a group. We aim for a balance of males and females, but in our experience, the gender ratio plays a small role in the success of each program.
Question
Do most participants come alone or with friends?
Answer
Most participants come alone, so there is no need to be concerned if you don't know anyone else on your program. It's normal to be a little nervous about not knowing other students in advance, but within a day of starting your program you'll be laughing and sharing exciting adventures with new friends.
Question
How does Broadreach address safety?
Answer
Safety is our top priority, and it is something we evaluate from every angle throughout the year. We’re very proud of our safety record over the past 26 years of running international programs for students. There are so many ways to address how we handle safety, including the extensive experience and training of our instructors, the specific locations we choose to visit, the relationships we have established with our local partners, and the 24/7 support we provide our groups. We have extensive program-specific risk management plans and safety standards that we adhere to. We'd be happy to talk about safety in more detail for the program you're considering if you'd like to give our office a call.
Question
Do I need to purchase travel insurance?
Answer
We require that students have at least $100,000 of emergency evacuation coverage and some kind of international medical coverage, as well as coverage for scuba diving for programs that include diving. We offer two different policy options, or if you already have a policy that meets this criteria, we would just collect those policy details after enrollment.
Question
What does tuition protection cover?
Answer
Our Tuition Protection policy covers cancellations for medical reasons up to 100% and for any other reason up to 75% (except for residents of NY state). It’s also a great comprehensive travel insurance policy, including medical coverage, emergency evacuation, travel delay, baggage (loss or delay), etc. The cost of the policy ranges from $319-379 based on the program duration. For more specific coverage details, please call our office.
Question
Who will my instructors be?
Answer
Broadreach instructors are highly experienced, passionate, energetic and supportive. The average age of our instructors is 28 years old, and depending on the program, they meet specific qualifications (a Master’s degree in the subject area, PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor certification, foreign language fluency, Wilderness First Responder certification, etc).
Question
Do your programs accommodate food preferences or food allergies?
Answer
We do our best to accommodate allergies and food preferences but we consider the situation, country and the program to determine whether it will be a good fit for the specific dietary restriction. It’s important that you let Broadreach know well in advance of any food preferences or allergies so we can determine whether your restrictions will work on your program.
Question
Can I contact Broadreach alumni families for more information?
Answer
Absolutely! Just call our office and we can put you in touch with past participants who have joined the programs that interest you. Our alumni families are happy to share their first-person experiences.
Question
Where will we be staying?
Answer
Accommodations vary by program, from private villas to jungle cabins to beach cabanas to research stations. We love staying in smaller local accommodations with authentic character rather than big chains, and we rarely camp.
Question
What should I pack?
Answer
We provide an extensive packing list for each program that we revise every year based on student and instructor feedback, and most of the items you probably have already. If you’d like to look at a packing list for a certain program, just let us know and we can email the most current version to you.
Question
How does payment work? Is the deposit or tuition refundable?
Answer
We require a non-refundable deposit of $1000 to lock in your spot, and then the final balance can be spread out and paid in a few different ways. The final payment is requested by about 3 months before departure. Our optional tuition protection plan covers cancellations for medical reasons up to 100% and cancellations for any other reason up to 75% (except for residents of NY state).
Question
Do you offer any discounts?
Answer
In the fall, we have a few different early enrollment discounts– please call our office for more information. We also offer a 5% discount on the second enrollment from the same immediate family in a summer. This offer is available to an individual student or siblings. The 5% discount will be applied to the program of lesser cost, and cannot be combined with any other discounts.
Question
Do you offer scholarships?
Answer
We do offer some scholarships through the Broadreach Foundation. Please visit www.broadreachfoundation.org for more information and to apply online for scholarships.
Broadreach Journey on Instagram

Never miss a post. Follow the journey on Instagram.