Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A New Calf in J pod!

J16 / Slick

Slick / J16 was born in 1972 and gave birth to a new baby in Puget Sound on December 17th, 2011. Slick is mother to J26 / Mike, J36 / Aiki, and J42 / Echo.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Canada Should Cooperate on Climate Change

If Canadian representatives at the UN climate change summit in Durban, South Africa won’t commit to the Kyoto Protocol and contribute to global efforts to stop climate change, they should go home and stop impeding progress.


Click to tell Japan, no disaster funds for whale slaughter!

Right now, the Japanese whaling fleet is hunting thousands of majestic whales -- guarded by a 30-million-dollar security force paid from disaster relief money! Meanwhile, Japanese children are stranded in radioactive areas with no funds to move away. Join the call to save kids, not whalers!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Killer Whale Salmon Diet Limiting Fishery

Experts look at killer whales salmon diet with eye on limiting the fishery

A cross-border panel will determine if the salmon fishery should be limited in order to increase chances of survival for the endangered whales. Huge chinook salmon are the most prized catch on the Pacific coast for fishermen on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, but they may soon have to share the bounty if a scientific panel links chinook and the survival of endangered southern resident killer whales. The independent, cross-border panel has recently completed the first of three workshops looking at studies connecting the abundance of chinook and the well-being of the rare killer whales. There's great interest from sport, commercial and First Nations fishermen in the recommendations because of the implications on the lucrative fishery, said panel member Andrew Trites. "Everybody is watching this very closely," said Trites, director of Marine Mammal Research at the University of B.C. Fisheries Centre.

Panel chairman Ray Hilborn said their job isn't to make a fisheries management recommendation but to evaluate the science behind an assessment that limiting the fishery will benefit the whales. The panel has about three dozen studies and reports to analyze before a decision is made at the end of 2012. Several studies have shown there's a correlation between poor survival of southern residents and low chinook abundance, Hilborn said. The professor of aquatic and fishery science at the University of Washington said both the Department of Fisheries in Canada and the Fisheries Service in the U.S. know a decision to limit the fishery will be controversial. "So if they're going to go forward with regulating these fisheries they want to be able to say, `You know it's not just our own scientists, we've had an independent panel review this stuff.'" William Stelle Jr., the regional administrator with the U.S. Department of Commerce, said in a letter issued earlier this year that if the panel recommends changes, the goal could be to implement the fisheries restrictions for the killer whale recovery plan starting as early as the 2013 salmon fishing season. Studies show that up to 90 per cent of the summer diet for the 88 southern killer whales is made of the large and fatty chinook and that a large percentage of those are returning to British Columbia's Fraser River.

Experts estimate adult orcas need up to about 290,000 calories a day. That's 10 to 34 salmon a day, depending on the size and species, or over 800,000 salmon a year. Lynne Barre, a marine biologist with the fisheries service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Washington state, said it's too soon to determine if limits would be placed on fisheries in order to protect the whales. "This is an impact we're considering," she said. "We haven't identified how or in what way a fishery would be changed in order to accommodate a need for the whales. We haven't gotten to that point." Barre, who leads the Orca recovery program in the United States, said the effort is part of an action plan to restore Washington state's Puget Sound by 2020. Plans are also in the works to keep the whales from oil spills and reduce contaminants. There's even a proposal to start tracking a whale with a satellite to see where the three pods winter. New regulations implemented this year in American waters limit the possibility of whale-vessel impacts. Limits were doubled to keep ships away from whales from 90 to 180 metres. Canadian no-go zones have been set at 100 metres. Barre said one of the most exciting proposals is an application by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to apply a small satellite tracking tag to one of the whales. Researchers are hoping the device can solve one of the biggest mysteries about where the whales travel in the winter. "It would increase our data with one deployment, to help us see how far off shore they're going, if they're staying in localized areas for extended times or if they're just transiting to and from feeding hot spots," she said. There are two different groups of resident whales off the B.C., Washington state coasts. The northern residents, which spend most of their known time in the waters off British Columbia, and the southern residents which split their time between Canadian and U.S. waters. The northern residents, with a population of about 200 whales, are similar to southern residents and have the same diet.

There are also about 500 other killer whales off the Pacific coast divided into transient and offshore groups that have a diet of mammals or sharks. Barre said helping the southern residents survive and thrive has been difficult. "It's definitely challenging because it is a trans-boundry issue because it covers a number of different types of threats, the prey, the contaminants and pollution and then vessel impact and sound." The population of the whale dipped dangerously low in the 1990s and while Barre said experts don't think it had anything to do with oil spills, they're working on a plan to keep the mammals away from potential harm. "We can use sounds, we can use these banging pipes, we can use a helicopter from the air to sort of encourage them to go in a certain direction. There's also these little underwater explosives that are generally used to keep seals and sea lions away." She said there's been plenty of concern this month about how to heard whales after several killer whales were spotted going up an Alaskan river. Three of them, including a pregnant whale, died.

Canadian Press

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bans on Shark Fin Sales

The last 12 months have seen a flurry of laws, regulations and industry actions to end the international trade in the age-old delicacy, including bans on shark fin sales in Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and parts of Canada. Last week, the California Senate also voted to ban the sale or possession of shark fins — a billion-dollar global trade that has led to the brutal deaths of tens of millions of sharks a year and resulted in many open-ocean shark species being threatened with extinction. The Bahamas and Honduras have prohibited shark fishing in the last two years.

NYT Environment

Monday, September 05, 2011

Endangered Right Whales Produce Louder Calls in Noisier Environments

Anthropogenic noise has been studied not only in terrestrial habitats, but also in aquatic environments, where it can disrupt communication of a number of organisms, including fish, crustaceans, dolphins, and whales. A recent study by collaborators at Penn State University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Duke University has demonstrated, for the first time, that individual North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) adjust the amplitude of their calls in response to ambient noise levels.

Science 2.0

Friday, September 02, 2011


Year - 2004
Tape - 246B
Date - Friday, Aug06
Time - 06:39
Annotations - 174
Whales - A30,A12,A36,A11,A35,A73,A24,A4 2,A43,A25,I15
Comments - Faint calls at beginning, boat noise increases. A30, A12, A36, and I15s, travel east in Johnston Strait, A1 and A5 calls. Echolocation and good calls at 06:57.
Link -

Friday, August 19, 2011

Vocal Behaviour and Feeding Ecology of Killer Whales Orcinus orca around Shetland, UK

Volker B. Deecke, Milaja Nykänen, Andrew D. Foote, Vincent M. Janik

ABSTRACT: Killer whales Orcinus orca are sighted regularly off Shetland, UK, but little is known about their numbers, diet and population identity. We aimed to relate vocal behaviour to diet of killer whales around Shetland in order to investigate population structure and differences in feeding strategies. Fieldwork was conducted in the summers of 2008 and 2009. We located killer whales through a sightings network and shore-based scans and collected photo-ID data, behavioural information, feeding data and acoustic recordings from a small boat. The majority of encounters (n = 14) were of small groups (1 to 15 individuals) travelling close to shore and feeding on marine mammals. Two encounters were with large groups (20+ individuals) feeding on herring Clupea harengus farther offshore. Seal-hunting groups vocalised rarely, producing pulsed calls, echolocation clicks and whistles almost exclusively when surface-active or milling after a kill. Herring-eating groups were largely silent during one encounter, but very vocal during the other. Analysis of pulsed calls identified 6 stereotyped call types for seal-hunting groups and 7 for herring-eating groups. No call types were shared between both kinds of groups. The vocal behaviour of seal-hunting groups showed striking parallels to that of Pacific marine mammal specialists and presumably evolved to decrease detection by acoustically sensitive prey. One call type produced by Shetland herring-eating killer whales matched a vocalisation that a previous study had described from Iceland and identified as a possible herding call that may function to concentrate herring during feeding. These findings point to behavioural and dietary specialisation among Shetland killer whales, which should be taken into account when making management decisions affecting these animals.

Aquatic Biology 13:79-88 (2011)

Monday, August 01, 2011


Year - 2004
Tape - 246A
Date - Aug06
Time - 05:51
Annotations - 249
Whales - A30,A12,A36,A11,A35,A73,A24,A4 2,A43,A25,I15
Comments - Lots of nice calls at the beginning, A30s at Cracroft Point.
Link -

Thursday, July 14, 2011


In previous years, IWC annual fees would be paid by cash to the Secretariat in exchange for the right to vote. The source of the funds were suspected to be from Japan resulting in new votes in favor of whaling. From now on payment of IWC dues will be paid though bank transfer only.

Link -

Vote on Fish Farms

An application to site a new open net-cage salmon farm in the waters of Clayoquot Sound, in the heart of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is being assessed by government regulators. Use the form below to send a message loud and clear; Say no way to uncontained salmon farming in B.C. Government must deny this application and put in place a moratorium to halt any new net-cage salmon farms in the province.


Friday, July 08, 2011

K44 - new SRKW calf

K27's new male calf K44 was spotted off San Juan Island on July 7, newest member to the Southern Resident endangered killer whale community.

Orca Network

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BBC Human Planet











Orchive - 245B

Year - 2004
Tape - 245B
Date - Aug06
Time - 05:04
Annotations - 9
Whales - A30,A12,A36,A11,A35,A73,A24,A4 2,A43,A25,I15
Comments - Echolocation, faint calls, A36s, I15s, calls at end of tape from Cracroft Point.
Link -

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Transient Killer Whale Whistle Communication


Public signaling plays an important role in territorial and sexual displays in animals; however, in certain situations, it is advantageous to keep signaling private to prevent eavesdropping by unintended receivers. In the northeastern Pacific, two populations of killer whales (Orcinus orca), fish-eating “resident” killer whales and mammal-eating “transient” killer whales, share the same habitat. Previous studies have shown that residents use whistles as private signals during close-range communication, where they probably serve to coordinate behavioral interactions. Here, we investigated the whistling behavior of mammal-eating killer whales, and, based on divergent social structures and social behaviors between residents and transients, we predicted to find differences in both whistle usage and whistle parameters. Our results show that, like resident killer whales, transients produce both variable and stereotyped whistles. However, clear differences in whistle parameters between ecotypes show that the whistle repertoire of mammal-eating killer whales is clearly distinct from and less complex than that of fish-eating killer whales. Furthermore, mammal-eating killer whales only produce whistles during “milling after kill” and “surface-active” behaviors, but are almost completely silent during all other activities. Nonetheless, whistles of transient killer whales may still serve a role similar to that of resident killer whales. Mammal-eating killer whales seem to be under strong selection to keep their communication private from potential prey (whose hearing ranges overlap with that of killer whales), and they appear to accomplish this mainly by restricting vocal activity rather than by changes in whistle parameters.

Riesch, Rüdiger and Deecke, Volker B. 2011. Whistle communication in mammal-eating killer whales (Orcinus orca): further evidence for acoustic divergence between ecotypes. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 65:1377–1387.


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Happy Oceans Day!


Gooseneck Barnacles, Pollicipes ploymerus

Aggregate Anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima


Thursday, May 26, 2011


Auditory evoked potential (AEP) responses were recorded during echolocation in an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) trained to accept suction-cup EEG electrodes and detect targets by echolocation. AEP recording was triggered by the echolocation clicks of the animal. Three targets with target strengths of –34, –28 and 22dB were used at a target distance of 2 to 6.5m for each target. The results demonstrated that the AEP appeared to both outgoing echolocation clicks and echoes during echolocation, with AEP complexes consisting of alternative positive and negative waves. The echo-related AEP amplitudes were obviously lower than the outgoing click-related AEP amplitudes for all the targets at the investigated target distances. However, for targets with target strengths of –22 and –28dB, the peak-to-peak amplitudes of the echo related AEPs were dependent on the target distances. The echo-related AEP response amplitudes increased at further target distances, demonstrating an overcompensation of echo attenuation with target distance in the echo-perception system of the dolphin biosonar. Measurement and analysis of outgoing click intensities showed that the click levels increased with target distance (R) by a factor of approximately 10 to 17.5logR depending on target strength. The results demonstrated that a dual-component biosonar control system formed by intensity compensation behavior in both the transmission and receiving phases of a biosonar cycle exists synchronously in the dolphin biosonar system.


Saturday, April 09, 2011

NOAA Issues Final Killer Whale Vessel Regulations

New regulations to protect killer whales in inland waters of Washington State from the effects of various vessel activities.

1. vessels must not approach any killer whale within 200 yards
2. vessels must stay out of the path of oncoming whales out to 400 yards.

Website for more information on the vessel regulations.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Orchive - 239B

Year - 2004
Tape - 239B
Date - Aug05
Time - 15:25
Annotations - 68
Whales - A30,A12,A36,A11,A35,A73,A24,A4 2,A43,A25,I15
Comments - Lots of rubbing and few calls to start then strong calls at 15:47.
Link -

Monday, March 07, 2011

Orchive - 237B

Year - 2004
Tape - 237B
Date - Aug05
Time - 11:29
Annotations - 147
Whales - A30,A12,A36,A11,A35,A73,A24,A4 2,A43,A25,I15
Comments - Lots of boat noise at the beginning of the tape, drops off 1/4 way through with some nice calls around 11:30 then boat noise picks up again at 11:40, loud close calls annotated (orca!).
Link -

Killer Whale Exhause Exposure

Cara L. Lachmuth, Lance G. Barrett-Lennard, D.Q. Steyn, William K. Milsom (2011) Estimation of southern resident killer whale exposure to exhaust emissions from whale watching vessels and potential adverse health effects and toxicity thresholds. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 28 January 2011.

Southern resident killer whales in British Columbia and Washington are exposed to heavy vessel traffic. This study investigates their exposure to exhaust gases from whale-watching vessels by using a simple dispersion model incorporating data on whale and vessel behavior, atmospheric conditions, and output of airborne pollutants from the whale-watching fleet based on emissions data from regulatory agencies. Our findings suggest that current whale-watching guidelines are usually effective in limiting pollutant exposure to levels at or just below those at which measurable adverse health effects would be expected in killer whales. However, safe pollutant levels are exceeded under worst-case conditions and certain average- case conditions. To reduce killer whale exposure to exhaust we recommend: vessels position on the downwind side of whales, a maximum of 20 whale-watching vessels should be within 800 m at any given time, viewing periods should be limited, and current whale-watch guidelines and laws should be enforced.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

J1/Ruffles Missing

Ruffles / J1

The 60 year old killer whale Ruffles/J1 was last seen on Novermber 21st, 2010. He would travel with Granny/J2 (100 years old) who has been seen several times since without Ruffles. Male longevity, typically is less than females, averaging about 29 years, some live well into their 40s and up 50-60 years of age. The average lifespan for females is about 50 years, however some may reach 80-90 years of age (Ford et. al. 2000).


Ford, K.B., Ellis, G.M., Balcomb, K.C. (2000) Killer Whales: The natural History and genealogy of Orcinus orca in British Columbia and Washington. UBC Press p.22

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Parks Photography

Ocean Spray



Arbutus Tree


Morning Fog

Offshore Killer Whales eating Sleeper Sharks

Offshore Killer Whale Teeth

John Ford and colleagues were observing the whales, they noticed them engaging in feeding behaviour. Immediately following this they discovered chunks of pink meat on the water’s surface which upon genetic analysis turned out to be the meat of at least 16 different Pacific sleeper sharks (Somniosus pacificus).


Thursday, January 06, 2011


Steller Sea Lions

The Social-10 objective is to estimate the risk and minimize the impact of human sound and military sonar. It includes suction-cup tagging, listening, and tracking of whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions. Preliminary findings show marine mammal response varied by species, behaviour, and sound type. For example, beaked whales were more responsive than other species, like pilot whales.

Sonar's Effects on Marine Mammals - Brandon Southall

Institute of Marine Sciences - UC Santa Cruz