Jackie Hildering

Jackie Hildering

Whale of a fundraiser for MERS

MERS held a successful fundraiser with money raised going towards marine education and research

The North Island Marine Education and Research Society (MERS) is putting the fun in fund-raising.

On Sunday, June 14 MERS will be converging at the Seahorse Café & Gallery in Telegraph Cove for the “Love Your Ocean” event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Love Your Ocean is a fund-raiser for MERS’s whale research and a ‘fun’ raiser for families.

The event will include games, crafts, music, food, a barbecue as well as a raffle and auction.

Support from businesses for raffle and silent auction items has been overwhelming with whale watching trips, pottery, clothing, kayaking, and more up for grabs, says Jackie Hildering, humpback whale researcher and education director for MERS.

The silent-auction will be live and on-line as well.

The Marine Education and Research Society, based in Alert Bay, was incorporated in 2010. The association was formed to bring together existing marine research and education projects as well as to provide a platform from which to conduct further work in the future.

The directors of MERS are marine biologists and educators, brought together through their work in the marine environment. While based here, MERS directors have worked in many countries and oceans.

To date, MERS research has been focused on projects investigating humpback and minke whales, but has also included work on other baleen whales, as well as on killer whales in other parts of the world.

“We’re tying to have this event that’s dynamic,” Hildering said, adding she will be in her dive gear as The Marine Detective and there will be a whole lot of marine puppets as well as the opportunity for people to have their photo taken in whale costumes.

People will also have the opportunity to suggest a name for a Humpback whale.

Funds generated will go to support the work the group is doing in the area. “An awful lot of what we’re doing is all volunteer. There’s a lot of valuable work being done and we have to find ways to get this work done.”

Hildering is grateful for the overwhelming support the society has received from the local business community for the event. The eco-tourism companies have made numerous offers available, she said. The Seahorse Café is donating the proceeds from their food sales that day to MERS.

“It’s extremely moving ,” she said.