Scientist, Whale researcher, Activist
Alexandra Morton moved to the remote Broughton Archipelago in 1984 with her husband Robin Morton and their baby son to study and film killer whales. When Robin died tragically, Alex decided to stay. The Broughton had become her home.
When the first salmon farm moved into the area in 1987 she thought they would bring new families and help keep the little community of Echo Bay alive; however, as the farms got bigger, they mechanized and the number of people employed by these farms declined. Today the industry is run by three large Norwegian companies, they do not hire local people, our school closed and Echo Bay is suffering.
As the biologist on the grounds Alex began grappling with the impacts of the industry by writing letters to government, but after 10,000 pages, she realized they were not going to accept the words of a local resident. So she appealed to scientists around the world and they worked with her to measure significant negative impact of salmon farms on fish and whales. Alex has co-published with these scientists in scientific journals in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Alex also participated in every government process on salmon farms and watched as each made solid recommendations that were never implemented.
She turned her home into the Salmon Coast Field Station and made it available to scientists who wanted to further study impact of salmon farms (see: www.salmoncoast.org). She is director of the Raincoast Research Society, a charitable non-profit society dedicated to science (see: www.raincoastresearch.org), and she founded the Pacific Coast Wild Salmon Society (see: www.adopt-a-fry.org) to use the courts to try and correct some of the serious legal issues with this industry. For example, in 1993 salmon farms were exempted from all the fishing regulations in Canada and thus have wild fish in the pens and use bright lights that attract fish and were banned from other commercial fisheries.
Today, Alex feels that science is not enough to bring reason to the salmon farming situation. Government does not appear to understand the value of wild salmon. Salmon farming is impacting wild salmon populations worldwide because like all feedlots it intensifies disease and this is lethal to wild fish.
Alexandra earns her living speaking and selling her books, drawings and photographs: www.alexandramorton.ca.
1991 Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Prize BC Book Prizes
2002 Honourable Mention Nature and the Environment Category – National Outdoor Book Award (Listening to Whales)
2003 Environmental Contribution Award - Service on the Sea
2004 Animal Action Award - International Fund for Animal Welfare
2005 Winner BC Book Prize (Stain Upon the Sea)
2005 Roderick Haig-Brown Conservation Award - Totem Flyfishers
2006 Murray Newman Award – Vancouver Aquarium
2007 Conservationist of the Year by BC Wildlife Federation
2008 Roland Michener Conservation Award Canadian Wildlife Federation
2008 Eugene Rogers environmental Award
2010 Honourary PhD Science Simon Fraser University
2010 Wings WorldQuest
Morton, A.B. 1991 Siwiti – A Whale’s Story. Orca Books, Victoria
Morton, A.B. 1993. In the Company of Whales, from the Diary of a Whale Watcher. Orca Books Victoria
Morton, A.B 1998. Life Among the Whales. In: Intimate Nature. Chapter. Ballantine Books New York
Morton, A.B. and Bill Proctor. 1998. Heart of the Raincoast. Horsdal and Schubart , Victoria
Morton, A.B. 2002 Listening to Whales, Random House, New York April 2002
Morton, A.B. 2004 Beyond the Whales, Heritage Press, Victoria
Morton, A.B. et al. 2005 Stain Upon Sea, Chapter Harbour Press
Morton, A. B., 1986. Sound and behavioral correlation in captive Orcinus orca. In: Kirkevold, B.C. and Lockhard, J.S. (eds.) Behavioral biology of killer whales. Alan R. Liss, Inc. New York. Pp. 303-333.
Morton, A.B. 1990. A quantitative comparison of the behaviour of resident and transient forms of the killer whale off the central British Columbia coast. Report of the International Whaling Commission. (special issue 12): 245-248.
Morton, A.B. 2000. Occurrence, photo-identification and prey of Pacific white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhyncus obliquidens) in the Broughton Archipelago, Canada 1985-1997. Marine Mammal Science. 16(1):80-93.
Morton, A.B. and Symonds, H.K. 2002. Displacement of Orcinus orca by high amplitude sound in British Columbia, Canada. ICES Journal of Marine Science. 59: 71-80
Morton, A.B. and Volpe J. 2002 A description of escaped farmed Atlantic salmon Salmo salar captures and their characteristics in one Pacific salmon fishery area in British Columbia Canada, in 2000. Alaska Fishery Research Bulletin, 9: 102-109.
Ford, J.K.B., G. Ellis, L. Barret-Lennard, A.B. Morton, R. Palm and K.C. Balcomb. Diet Specialization in two sympatric populations of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in coastal British Columbia and adjacent waters. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 21: 603-618
Morton, A.B., and Williams R . 2003 Infestation of the sea louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis (Krø.yer) on juvenile pink salmon Oncorhynchus gorbuscha (Walbaum) in British Columbia, Canadian Field Naturalist, 117: 634-641
Morton, A.B., Routledge, R., Peet, C. and Ladwig, A 2004 Sea lice, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, infection rates on juvenile chum and pink salmon in the nearshore marine environment in British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 61: 147-157.
Blaylock, R. B. Overstreet, R.M. and Morton, A.B. 2005 The pathogenic copepod Phrixocephalus cincinnatus (Copepoda: Pennellidae) in the eye of arrowtooth flounder, Atherestes stomias, and rex sole, Glyptocephalus zachirus, from British Columbia. The European Association of Fish Pathologists, 25: 116-123.
Ford, J.K.B., Matkin, D.R., Balcomb, K.C., Briggs, D., Morton, A.B., Killer whale attacks on Minke Whales: prey capture and antipredator tactics In Press, Marine Mammal Science 21: 603-618.
Morton, A.B., Routledge, R, and Williams R. 2005 Temporal patterns of sea lice infestation on wild Pacific salmon in relation to the fallowing of Atlantic salmon farms. American Journal of Fisheries Management. 25: 811-821 Krkosek, M., A. Morton, and J.P. Volpe. 2005. Nonlethal Assessment of Juvenile Pink and Chum Salmon for Parasitic Sea Lice Infections and Fish Health. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 134: 711 716
Morton, A.B. and Routledge (2006) Mortality rates for juvenile pink and chum salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha and keta) infested with sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) in the Broughton Archipelago. Alaska Fisheries Research Bulletin. 11:2, 146-152.
Morton, A.B. and Richard Routledge (2006) Fulton’s Condition Factor: Is it a valid measure of sea lice impact on juvenile salmon? North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 26,56–62.
Krkosek, M., Lewis, M.A., Volpe, J.P., & Morton, A.B.. 2006. Fish Farms and sea lice infestations of wild juvenile salmon in the Broughton Archipelago - A rebuttal to Brooks (2006). Reviews in Fisheries Science. 14: 1-11.
Morton, A.B. and Williams, R. 2006. Response of the Sea Louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis infestation levels on juvenile wild Pink, Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, and Chum, O. keta, salmon, to arrival of parasitized wild adult salmon. Canadian Field Naturalist. 120:2
Krkosek, M., Lewis, M. A., Volpe, J.P. and Morton, A.B.. 2006. Fish Farms and Sea Lice Infestations of Wild Juvenile Salmon in the Broughton Archipelago—A Rebuttal to Brooks (2005). Reviews in Fisheries Science, 14: 1-11
Krkosek, M., Lewis, M., Morton, A. Frazer, N., and Volpe, J. 2006. Epizootics of wild fish induced by farm fish Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 103: 15506-15510.
Krkosek, M., Ford, J. S., Morton, A.B., Lele, S., Myers, R.A., & Lewis, M.A., 2007. Declining wild salmon populations in relation to parasites from farm salmon. Science. 318, 1772-1775.
Krkosek, M., Ford, J. S., Morton, A.B., Lele, S., & Lewis, M.A., 2008. Response to comment on 'Declining wild salmon populations in relation to parasites from farm salmon'. Science. 322, 1790-1791.
Krkosek, M., Ford, J. S., Morton, A.B., Lele, S., & Lewis, M.A., 2008. Sea lice and pink salmon declines: A response to Brooks and Jones. Reviews in Fisheries Science. 16, 413-420.
Morton, A.B., Routledge, R. and Krokosek, M. 2008. Sea lice infestation of wild juvenile salmon and herring associated with fish farms off the east central coast of Vancouver Island, BC. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 28, 523-532.
Krkosek, M., A. Morton, J. Volpe, & M.A. Lewis, 2009. Sea lice and salmon population dynamics: Effects of exposure time for migratory fish. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B. 272:689-696.