Paul Spong is co-director of OrcaLab, a land based whale research station on Hanson Island in British Columbia, and president of the non-profit Pacific Orca Society.
He acquired a Ph.D. in physiological psychology from U.C.L.A. in 1966, and began studying dolphins and orcas in 1967, initially in captivity, then in the wild.
His insights soon led to his involvement with Greenpeace in the save-the-whales movement during the 1970s, which culminated in the moratorium on commercial whaling agreed to by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1982.
In the 1980s Paul returned to full time orca research. Since then, in partnership with his wife Helena, his work has focused on the long-term life history of the northern resident community of British Columbia orcas, the protection of orca habitat, and cetacean welfare issues such as commercial whaling and captivity.
In 1997, recognizing that the moratorium had not resolved the issue of commercial whaling, Paul returned to the IWC, and has attended most annual meetings since.
In 1984, Paul & Helena launched the “Free Corky” campaign, in an attempt to return the last surviving Northern Resident captive orca to her family and community. In the years since, many individuals and groups have joined the effort, so far without success. Paul & Helena are also involved in the development of technology that connects people to the natural world via the Internet – in particular through Orca-Live and Explore.