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The Marine Detective aka Jackie Hildering is the winner of SWCC’s 2018 People’s Choice Award for Canada's Favourite Canadian Science Site. She is an educator, Humpback Whale researcher, underwater photographer, and author living on Vancouver Island, BC. She co-founded the Marine Education and Research Society and is active in conservation and as a naturalist trainer.

The Marine Detective

sea slug, Alabaster Nudibranch (Dirona albolineata) at a depth of 3 metres

The first sentence on The Marine Detective’s page reads, “Join me in the cold, dark, life-sustaining NE Pacific Ocean to discover the great beauty, mystery and fragility hidden there.”

It’s an invitation. If you accept, there’s a good chance your mind will be blown (in a good way).

An excellent place to start is the photos. Many of The Marine Detective’s underwater images are from a part of the ocean that even most divers have never seen. She dives the cold, dark waters off Vancouver Island’s northeast coast. As promised, she captures great beauty, mystery and fragility with her camera. If you think exquisite, colourful life forms are only found on tropical coral reefs and not in dark, cold water, prepare to be amazed.


One of the things I like about The Marine Detective’s site is that there is no sign-in and no ad-packed slideshows. You can view the lush, full size images without annoying distractions, possibly for much, much longer than you’d planned to spend oohing and aahing at the mysteries of the deep. For the divers and photogs, there’s technical info about the photographs.

Jackie’s blogs about marine animals drew me in and kept me reading. I came across something called Bubble-Net Feeding. What could that possibly be?

Turns out it’s a co-operative hunting strategy of humpback whales. A well-coordinated team works together to corral a school of small fish by blowing bubbles into a netlike shape. While some whales are hard at work doing that, another whale, the caller, screams like you’ve never heard a whale scream before. It’s one of the freakiest sounding things you’ll ever hear. You might not be anthropomorphizing when you think you hear rising excitement in the caller’s shriek. You can learn how and why, watch the humpbacks work together, and listen to the astounding caller here: Bubble-Net Feeding

While checking out Jackie’s Orca blogs, I came across a whale of a tale spawned by a viral video in 2015. Orca were seen rubbing their bellies on a pebbly bottom in shallow waters off the Discovery Islands. The internet went wild. No Orca had ever done this before! Um, wrong. According to The Marine Detective, “It’s not rare behaviour at all. It is rare that people get to see it.” Not only does Jackie explain what’s going on, she even identifies the individual belly-rubbing whales! Other recordings have surfaced since the original viral video and have been added to the story:  Beach Rubbing Orca

And if you’ve ever wondered how, exactly, an octopus poos (and let’s face it, who hasn’t), you’re welcome. Octopus Pooing

The blog includes links to more resources and research, and there are informative excerpts of The Marine Detective from various TV programs on the site as well.

There’s something for the kiddies too. Her book, Find the Fish, is a Where's Waldo of the fish world. It’s intended for kids aged 5 to 10 and the adults who love them. There is another Find the Fish in the works, scheduled to be published in 2019. Find the Fish is available on The Marine Detective site, along with calendars, cards and prints featuring Jackie’s photographs.

The Marine Detective, Canada’s Favourite Science Site, is a love letter to nature, to the ecosystems that support all life. If you love something, you want to learn more about it, and when you know more about it and realize its true worth, you want to protect and nurture it. You want others to discover, love, and protect it too. And that, in short, is what The Marine Detective’s site is all about.

Along with her fact-based blogs, Jackie writes about the things that are on her mind and in her heart. Below is a meme she created for her site, and closing thoughts from The Marine Detective herself.

Humpback Whale “Jigger”

It is such a limitation to think, and feel, and speak in a way that this is somehow about something outside ourselves . . . saving “the environment.” We are the environment. It’s not about saving something outside ourselves ... whales, wetlands, trees, fish. It’s about choices that benefit ourselves and future generations, providing the greatest chances for health and happiness. It’s about children. That’s what all these photos and words are about here on “The Marine Detective” folks. Inspiration. Connection. Understanding our capacity for positive change. Caring More. Consuming Less. Voting for the future. And, knowing our place IN the environment.

Jackie Hildering

The Marine Detective


Who did you vote for in the 2018 People’s Choice Award for your Favourite Canadian Science Site? If you voted for The Marine Detective, you voted for the Winner! 

Congrats to The Marine Detective, Jackie Hildering!

Watch the Winner Announcement video and catch a glimpse of some of Jackie Hildering’s awe inspiring work. 

The Runners-Up are: 


Inside the Perimeter

Congratulations to all our nominees. In our eyes, you’re all winners! See you next year.   

Voting is now closed for Canada’s Favourite Science Online. We asked you to vote for your fave science site and you did! Did your choice become a Finalist? And who won? The winner will be announced via video on Wednesday, October 10th on social media and on this page. Be sure to check back and cheer for the winner!

In the meantime, here are your Finalists, three science sites we’re all proud to call our own!

Finalists for Favourite Canadian Science Site:

Inside the Perimeter

Twitter: @Perimeter

Who doesn’t want to understand the universe? Inside the Perimeter you’ll find mindbending ideas in theoretical physics. Combined with research, training, and outreach the PI aims to stimulate the breakthroughs that could transform our future. To explore bold new ideas Inside the Perimeter, visit their website or check it out on Twitter.



 Twitter: @r2rnow

Does quantum physics answer unanswerable questions? Can farmed algae replace fossil fuels? Why is the bread wheat’s genome more than five times larger than a human’s? So many fascinating topics in the world today, so much iffy information on the internet. But don’t worry, real science is just one click away. Get the facts from world class scientists at Canadian universities who share their leading edge research online on this site.


The Marine Detective

 Twitter: @OceanDetective

Jackie Hildering is an educator, conservationist, diver, underwater photographer, and Humpback Whale researcher in BC. Her mission is to raise awareness about life in the ocean and to illuminate the fragility, beauty, and mystery of the deeps.  Her underwater images expose the vital importance of conservation and illustrate that the merging of science and art is breathtaking.

Science Borealis will announce the Winner for Favourite Blog on Wednesday October 3rd on social media, and is announcing the runners-up starting on Monday October 1, 2018. @ScienceBorealis

It’s time to show your favourite Science Sites and Blogs some love. Yes, it’s the 2018 People’s Choice Awardsfor your Fave Canadian Science Online … and you choose who wins!

We’re proud to call these outstanding Canadian sites and blogs our own. Some of them may already be your favourites, or maybe you’ve never heard of them. If you check them out, you might just find more online science to love.

To award your favourites the bragging rights they so richly deserve, all you have to do is vote for your three favourite sites and your three favourite blogs. Once you’ve voted, join us on social media to cheer for your faves using the hashtag #CdnSciFav

Voting in now closed.  Winners TBA in early October across SWCC and SciBor social media channels and websites.

Top 10 for Canada’s Favourite Science Site

Earth Rangers

 Twitter: @EarthRangers

Earth Rangers is all about knowledge of the environment and the confidence to take action. Participation in home experiments and missions give kids & families the tools to help our environment at a grass roots level.

Hey Science – Science Sam

Twitter: @heysciencesam

Sam is passionate about communicating science in fun but informative ways. Speaking engagements, Instagram, Twitter, and educational videos – see Sam do it all on her site. Why? Because she wants you to understand, and love science as much as she does.

Inside the Perimeter


Who doesn’t want to understand the universe? Inside the Perimeter Institute you’ll find mindbending ideas in theoretical physics. Combined with research, training, and outreach the PI aims to stimulate the breakthroughs that could transform our future.

Québec Science

Twitter: @QuebecScience 

This award-winning French language science magazine has been a magnet for science fans since 1962. It’s knowledge-based features include the latest in science and technology breakthroughs, research, news, and commentary, and there’s a fun page for youth as well!


 Twitter: @r2rnow

Does quantum physics answer unanswerable questions? Can farmed algae replace fossil fuels? Why is the bread wheat’s genome more than five times larger than a human’s? World-class scientists at Canadian universities share their innovative, leading edge research on this site.

Science Alive

 Twitter: @SciTechMuseum

Did you know that Canada’s first automobile had a horse and buggy design with a boiler and steam engine? What’s the dirt on dirt? Would teleportation work in real life as well as it does on Star Trek? How fast is ‘warp speed’ exactly? Curious about the answers? Who isn’t.

Science for the People 

 Twitter: @sci4thepeople

Out of Edmonton, AB, this long-format podcast/radio show hits North America’s airwaves weekly. Exploring the connections between science, popular culture, history, and public policy, it aims to help listeners understand the evidence and arguments behind what's in the news and on the shelves. Listener supported and ad free.

The Marine Detective 

 Twitter: @OceanDetective

Jackie Hildering is a biology teacher, diver, underwater photographer, and Humpback Whale researcher in BC. Her mission is to raise awareness about life in the ocean and to illuminate the fragility, beauty, and mystery of the deeps. Her underwater images illustrate that the merging of science and art is breathtaking.

The Weather Network – Out of This World 

 Twitter: @ScottWx_TWN

Dedicated to Canada’s favourite topic, Scott Sutherland brings together all kinds of science news about weather, climate change, astronomy, space exploration, and space weather. Wondering about the weather in space, or even on Earth? Aren’t we all.


Tomatosphere – Let’s Talk Science 


Space tomatoes! Tomatosphere uses the excitement of space exploration as a way to teach the skills and processes of scientific inquiry. In the Seed Investigation, students examine the effects of the space environment on the germination of tomato seeds.

Vote for your faves now! 

Short-List for Canada’s Favourite Science Blog

Palaeocast –Dave Marshall, Joe Keating, Laura Soul, Liz Martin-Silverstone, Caitlin Colleary, Tom Merrick-Fletcher

Twitter: @Palaeocast

The Palaeocast blog is where we let palaeontologists around the world tell their own stories in their own voice. Paleocast is a free web series exploring the fossil record and the evolution of life on earth.

Scientist Sees Squirrel– Stephen B. Heard


I’m an evolutionary ecologist and entomologist at the University of New Brunswick. Most of my current research has to do with plant-insect interactions and with the evolution of new biodiversity.  But when I’m not doing research, I think about a lot of quasirandom things.  I blog about some of them here.

Birds In Mud– Lisa Buckley

Twitter: @LisaVipes

I am a vertebrate paleontologist who specializes in the study of the tracks and traces of Mesozoic animals, specifically Cretaceous-age (145 million years ago to 66 million years ago) dinosaurs and birds!

Agile Scientific– Matt Hall, Evan Bianco, Diego Castañeda, Robert Leckenby, Kara Turner, Tracey Lothian

Twitter: @agilegeo

A bioscience and technology blog with a string focus on geophysics and geosciences, Agile also organizes hackathons, teaches coding for geoscientists and engineers, and promotes open discussion about pressing topics in science and industry.

Canadian Mountain Network Various authors


CMN was established to collaboratively address the diverse challenges facing mountain regions by harnessing existing capacities and seeking new research relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and communities. Our aim is for CMN to become a national and global leader in inclusive, co-designed, interdisciplinary mountain-research that recognizes the interconnectedness in mountain systems between the environment, economy, and society, and encourages an integrated approach for long-term sustainability that serves the needs of mountain communities. CMN and its administrative centre is hosted at the University of Alberta.

Obesity Panacea Peter Janiszewski and Travis Saunders

Twitter:@TravisSaundersand @Dr_Janis

Obesity Panacea educates people about the science (or lack thereof) behind popular weight loss products, and has grown to include discussions of the latest news and research regarding obesity, nutrition and physical activity.

The Boreal Beetle– Dezene Huber

Twitter: @docdez

Insect Ecology Lab @UNBC blogging about ecology, entomology, and life.

Spiderbytes – Catherine Scott

Twitter: @Cataranea

This is a blog about spiders (and probably occasionally some other stuff, too)! The idea is that each post will feature accumulations of cool bits of information (‘bytes’) about spiders: spiderbytes. By the way, spiders (usually) do NOT bite, and one of my dreams (for this blog, and in life) is to shift perceptions about spiders from fearsome, aggressive, disgusting etc., to amazing, beautiful, sophisticated, charming, fascinating, elegant, resourceful, mysterious, and many more adjectives that could be used to describe these awesome arthropods!

Jasmine Janes Jamsine Janes


I am an Assistant Professor in Plant Ecology/Genetics at Vancouver Island University. I teach units including Plant Ecology, Conservation Biology, Terrestrial Ecosystems and Computing for Biologists. I currently work and collaborate on projects ranging from genomics of eucalypts and mountain pine beetle, to speciation mechanisms in Stellaria, to dietary metagenomics in Vancouver Island Marmot

Vote for your faves now! 



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