Linda Nichol

Resreach Biologist

Current research and/or projects

Linda Nichol joined the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 2001, as a research biologist working on sea otters and cetaceans in the Pacific Region. Linda became involved in field studies of marine mammals in the Canadian Pacific in1988 with her M.Sc. research on the foraging ecology of resident killer whales. Since then, she has participated in research involving photo-identification and acoustic monitoring of killer whales, effects of manmade noise on harbour porpoise, compiling whaling catch records as biological data on historic populations of large cetaceans. In the past, she has also worked on projects related to coastal marine birds, intertidal invertebrates and plants, and environmental monitoring. Current research is focused the conservation status of sea otters, listed as Threatened under Canada's Species-at-Risk Act. She also participates in field research of SARA listed cetacean species. Sea otter research involves population assessment, habitat modelling, and assessment of potential threats to sea otters (e.g. genetic diversity, disease, and health). Research is undertaken in collaboration with colleagues at universities, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, and internationally.

Education and awards

B.Sc. Zoology
(University of British Columbia)

M.Sc. Zoology
(University of British Columbia)

Key publications


Nichol, L.M. Conservation in Practice. In Sea Otter Conservation. Larson,S., Bodkin, J., VanBlaricom, G. Elsevier Inc. 2015. pp 365-389.

Nichol, L.M., Hall, A.M., Ellis, G. M., Stredulinsky, E. H., Boogaards, M. D., Ford J.K.B. 2013. Dietary overlap and niche partitioning of sympatric harbour porpoises and Dall's porpoises in the Salish Sea. Progress in Oceanography, 115: 202-210.

Newsome, S.D., Tinker, M.T., Gill, V.A., Hoyt, Z.N., Doroff, A., Nichol, L., Bodkin, J. 2015. The interaction of intraspecific competition and habitat on individual diet specialization: a near range-wide examination of sea otters. Oecologia, 178 (1): 45-59

Harris, K. A., Nichol, L. M., Ross, P. S. 2011. Hydrocarbon concentrations and patterns in free-ranging sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from British Columbia, Canada. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 30: 2184–2193.

Gregr, E.J., Nichol, L.M., Watson, J.C., Ford, J.K.B., Ellis, G.M. 2008. Estimating carrying capacity for Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) in British Columbia. Journal of Wildlife Management, 72(2): 382-388.

Olesiuk, P.F., Nichol, L.M., Sowden, M.J.,Ford, J.K.B. 2002. Effect of the sound generated by an acoustic deterrent device on the abundance and distribution of harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in Retreat Passage, British Columbia. Marine Mammal Science. 18(4): 843-862.

Gregr E.J., Nichol, L., Trites, A., Ford ,J.K.B., Ellis, G.E. 2000. Migration and population structure of Northwestern Pacific whales off coastal British Columbia: An analysis of commercial whaling records from 1908-1967. Marine Mammal Science. 16(4):699-727.

Nichol, L., Wilson, L., Elliott, J. 1999. Marine and Estuarine Birds of the Georgia Basin. Chemical Contamination. Environment Canada, Georgia Basin. Factsheet. Catalogue No. CW66-186/2000E 15pp.

Nichol, L.M., Shackleton, D.M. 1996. Seasonal movements and foraging behaviour of northern resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) in relation to the inshore distribution of salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) in British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 74(6): 983-991. 


Nichol, L.M., Watson J.C., Abernethy, R, Rechsteiner, E., Towers, J. 2015. Trends in the abundance and distribution of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in British Columbia updated with 2013 survey results. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2015/039. vii + 31 p.

Nichol, L.M., Ford, J.K.B. 2012. Information relevant to the assessment of critical habitat for Blue, Fin, Sei and North Pacific Right Whales in British Columbia DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2011/137. vi + 31 p.

Nichol, L.M., Abernethy, R., Flostrand, L., Lee T.S., Ford, J.K.B. 2010. Information relevant for the identification of Critical Habitats of North Pacific Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in British Columbia. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2009/116 iv + 40 p.

Nichol, L.M.,Boogaards, M.D., Abernethy, R. 2009. Recent trends in the abundance and distribution of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in British Columbia. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2009/016. iv + 16 p.

Nichol, L.M. 2009. An assessment of some of the factors affecting observer efficacy during cetacean surveys in Canada’s Pacific Region. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc.2009/065. iv + 18 p.

Ford J.K.B., Rambeau A.L., Abernethy R.M., Boogaards M.D., Nichol, L.M., Spaven, L.D. 2009. An assessment of the potential for recovery of Humpback Whales off the Pacific coast of Canada. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2009/015. iv + 33 p.

Nichol, L.M. 2007. Recovery Potential Assessment for Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) in Canada. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2007/034. ii + 26 p.

Nichol, L.M., Watson, J.C., Ellis, G.M., Ford, J.K.B. 2005. An assessment of abundance and growth of the sea otter (Enhydra lutris) population in British Columbia. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2005/094. ii + 22 p. 


COSEWIC, 2007. Assessment and update status report on the sea otter Enhydra lutris in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Vii + 36pp. ( Written by L.M. Nichol and J.C. Watson.


Ford, J.K.B., Abernethy, R.M., Phillips, A.V., Calambokidis, J., Ellis, G.M., Nichol, L.M. 2010. Distribution and relative abundance of cetaceans in western Canadian waters from ship surveys, 2002-2008. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2913: v + 51 p.

Nichol, L.M., Gregr, E.J., Flinn, R., Ford, J.K.B., Peacock, A., Michaluk, L. Gurney, R. 2002. BC Commercial Whaling Catch Data 1908 to 1967. A detailed description of the BC Historical Whaling Database. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2371. 77pp.

Nichol, L., Booth, J. Smiley, B. 1997. West Coast Data Inventory and Appraisal. Volume 5. The Strait of Georgia and adjoining B.C. inlets and waters, waters west of Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands out to the 200-mile fishery limit: Biological Oceanography - Marine Mammals, 1879 through 1996.

Iwama, G.K., Ford, J. Nichol, L. 1997. British Columbia Salmon Aquaculture Review. Discussion paper D. Aquatic mammals and other species. 62pp. +2 appendices.

Nichol, L.M., Wainwright, P.F., Olesiuk, P.F. Smiley, B.D. 1993. West Coast Data Inventory and Appraisal. Volume 6, Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait, Queen Charlotte Sound and adjoining B.C. coastal waterways: Biological Oceanography - Marine Mammals, 1892 through 1991. Canadian Data Report of Hydrography and Ocean Science. 37: (Vol. 4) 321 pp.

Nichol, L., Heise, K. 1992. The historical occurrence of large whales off the Queen Charlotte Islands. Prep. for South Moresby/Gwaii Haanas National Parks Reserve, Canadian Parks Service, Queen Charlotte City, B.C. 68 pp.

Ford, J.K.B., Ellis, G.E., Nichol L.M. 1992. Killer whales of the Queen Charlotte Islands. A preliminary study of the abundance, distribution and population identity of Orcinus orca in the waters of Haida Gwaii. Prep. for South Moresby/Gwaii Haanas National Parks Reserve, Canadian Parks Service, Queen Charlotte City, B.C. 26 pp.