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From Sea to Sea

19 Sep 2017

Close your eyes and imagine yourself on the magnificent St. Lawrence River or the majestic Pacific Ocean that runs along Canada’s West Coast. In front of you, you see the beauty of nature and the bodies of water that create absolutely breathtaking landscapes. This is where the living creatures that enrich our waters and make them truly unique in the world are born year after year. 

Since we love nature, Simons wanted (with your partnership and that of two organizations dedicated to working for the survival of marine mammals) to symbolically adopt a beluga from the St. Lawrence River and an orca from the Pacific Ocean. With us, you’ll be helping these organizations invest in different research programs that aim to study and protect these animals in their natural habitat. 

Let us tell you how it all started…

Once upon a time, there was Twik…

Our love story began in 1989 when we adopted our first whale named Twik in honour of our department for young, eclectic fashionistas. Twik was a large male beluga that allowed scientists from Tadoussac to learn more about how male whales live.  He was also one of the males that the researchers followed closely for a long time. The last sightings of Twik were back in 2010. He was about 40 or 50 years old.

After just a few contagious smiles exchanged with the St. Lawrence belugas, Simons couldn't resist being charmed by them once again!  We reconnected by adopting a female beluga named Artsea. She's a young whale that was probably born around the year 2000 and that the GREMM (Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals) has been following since she was little. Future observations of Artsea will help researchers learn more about the life of females, their survival, and reproduction. We chose her name in order to pay tribute to our love of art and the importance that we place on creativity in daily life at Twik.


We've got wonderful news: Artsea is now a mother! The beluga whale we adopted last fall has been seen on multiple occasions with a newborn at her side in the Saint Lawrence River. 

Since we wanted to extend our love from coast to coast, we recently adopted a male orca in Western Canada through the Marine Mammal Research Program. He was born in 2008 and belongs to the northern resident community of orcas that swim the waters off the northern coast of Vancouver Island and the continental shelf in Southwest Alaska. Hope was named after Hope Island, which is off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. Although he already had his name when we adopted him, it brings to mind an important value for us at Twik—hope: positive action today for a better future tomorrow. 

Even though they are separated by several thousand kilometres, Artsea and Hope have certain things in common, according to the GREMM's scientific director, Robert Michaud. Compared to other mammals, they are creatures with extraordinary cognitive abilities and communication skills. They both develop very complex social structures and social lives in different ways. Now, aren't they even more magnificent? 

Founded in 1985 and based in Tadoussac, the GREMM is the realization of biologist Robert Michaud’s dream. In the early 80’s, he was hired as a naturalist on board the first boats that brought tourists to see the whales off the shore of Tadoussac. It’s at that very spot that he discovered a new passion. More motivated than ever to better understand and protect these giant creatures, Robert, along with the help of partners and enthusiasts, founded the GREMM. Its three main missions? Education, research, and conservation.  These three goals go hand in hand, since it’s through research that we can learn more about belugas, that we can increase awareness, and that we can better protect them. 

For over 30 years, the Marine Mammal Research Program in Vancouver has been involved in ground-breaking research on killer whales and other marine mammals of British Columbia. Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard, the director of the organization, and his team concentrate their efforts on conducting conservation-oriented research with the ultimate goal of identifying emerging conservation issues early on, so that they can be addressed before they become severe. Currently the program’s projects and initiatives involve studying and monitoring killer whale health, population status and prey availability, their exposure to underwater noise and contaminants, and the effectiveness of efforts to reduce the risks presented by human activities in West Coast waters.

A Wave of Pieces Inspired by the Deep