Thursday, December 09, 2010

SRKW Population

L54 and L108

L5 has a new calf L117, increasing the L pod population to 42 individuals.

L pod - 42
K pod - 20
J pod - 28

Making a total of 90 killer whales endangered in this community.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Steller Sea Lion Managment Plan

Steller Sea Lion

There are two populations of Steller Sea Lions (Eumetopias jubatus) that live in the north Pacific; the Eastern and the Western populations. The animals living in Canada are part of the Eastern population extending from southern California to southeastern Alaska. The Eastern population has grown in the past few years, contrary to the Western population. The Eastern population is listed as of special concern by the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and therefore a management plan has been proposed. A species of special concern could become threatened or endangered.

Paper - Proposed Management Plan for the Steller Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus) in Canada

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Sleeper Sharks and Sea Otter Decline

Sea Otter
Sea otter - Hotsprings Cove, Tofino BC

Sea otters off the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, have decreased drastically over the past 15 years. Transient killer whales have been suggested as a cause but sea otters are relatively low in energy reserves versus other marine mammals due to their thin blubber layer. Otters have a very thick fur layer with a million hairs per square inch to keep them warm. Their pelts is why they became extinct off the British Columbia coast during the fur trade and decimated in the Pacific. Sleeper sharks have concurrently increased in population and need to be further investigated as a cause of the sea otter decline. The change in abundance of sea otters is cause for concern as they are a top predator in the kelp forest. Sea otters feed on urchins allowing for the kelp bed to grow. The forest provides protection and is a nursery for many species of fish and invertebrates. Disease and high contaminant levels have not been ruled out as a significant contributor to the sea otter decline.

Paper - A re-evaluation of the role of killer whales Orcinus orca in a population decline of sea otters Enhydra lutris in the Aleutian Islands and a review of alternative hypotheses

Sunday, August 22, 2010

SRKW Missing Orcas 2010

Missing and presumed dead are:

- L114, new calf born to L77 in February 2010, missing when the whales returned in June.

- L73/Flash, a male born in 1986, missing summer 2010.

Flash / L73
L73 / Flash
Flash / L73

- L74/Saanich, a male also born in 1986, missing summer 2010.

Saanich / L74

- K11/Georgia, a female estimated to be born in 1933, last observed in May 2010.

K11 / Georgia

This brings the population of the Southern Resident orca community to about 87 individuals. J pod has 28 members; K pod has 19; and L pod has 40, including (approximately):
~9 post-reproductive females (over 40 years old)
~25 adult females (12-40 years old)
~19 mature or adolescent males (over 12 years old)
~21 juveniles (5-12 years old)
~13 calves (0-4 years old)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Greenland Defies IWC Rules

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society: Greenland Defies IWC Rules by Authorizing Humpback Whaling before Hunt is Legal

Greenland obtained approval from the IWC last June to start a hunt of nine humpback whales a year but, despite acknowledging in a letter to the Commission that to begin the hunt before the mid-October deadline would be a violation of IWC regulations, it seems that the Greenland’s government has given way to hunters who want to start the killing much sooner. Greenland first sought a quota of humpback whales in 2007, arguing that its existing quota of fin and minke whales was inadequate to meet its subsistence needs. For three consecutive years, Greenland’s proposal failed, amid concerns about high levels of commercialization of whale meat intended to meet subsistence needs, and the government’s refusal to document who actually needs to eat whale meat for subsistence in Greenland. This will be the first humpback hunt in Greenlandic waters since 1986, after the quota was finally awarded in June in a controversial compromise in which Greenland gave up part of its fin and minke whale quota that it never used anyway.

full article

Saturday, May 22, 2010


There are five species of Pacific salmon that die after spawning; Chinook, Chum, Coho, Sockeye, and Pink. Salmon return to their natal streams and rivers each year. Salmon travel thousands of miles and spend one to five years feeding in the ocean before returning to their birth streams. Spawning females dig out a gravel nests, called a redd. The males then fertilizes the eggs and the female protects the redd for one to two weeks. Alveins hatch and mature into fry, developing vertical bars for camouflage, called parr marks. After a period of feeding fry migrate downstream towards the ocean and grow into smolts adapting to their marine environment.

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
Spring, Salmon, King, Blackmouth,
Quinnat, Chub, Tyee (14+kg)
Chinooks have a greenish-blue dark back with
long black spots, a red hue develops around
the fins and belly, male teeth are enlarged and
they have a hooked snout. Tyee reach 1.5 m
and 58 kg, average 90 cm and14 kg. Spawning
peak May to June and August to September.

O. keta
Dog Salmon
Females are a metallic
blue, males have a
checkerboard colouration,
a dark horizontal stripe, and
canine-like teeth. Average
from 4.5 to 12 kg. Spawning
peak month October.

O. kisutch
Silver Salmon
Spawning males are red on
their sides, and a bright green
on the back and head areas, with a
darker colouration on the belly, spots
on upper tail fin lobe. They also develop
a hooked jaw with sharp teeth. Females
develop a lesser-hooked snout. Coho
reach 1 m and weigh up to 14 kg, they
average between 3 to kg. Spawning
peak July to August.

O. nerka
Kokanee, Red Salmon,
Blueback Salmon
Varying shades of red resulting
in a brilliant scarlet fish with a
green head. Grow to 83 cm
and weigh up to 7 kg. Spawning
peak month August.

O. gorbuscha
Pale grey, males
develop a hump.
Get up to 76 cm
and to 5.5 kg,
average 1.5 to 2.5 kg.
Spawning peak month

On top of natural dangers from predators dangers to salmon from human activities include poor farming and forest practices, pollution, destruction of coastal wetlands and estuaries. The territory of British Columbia salmon has been decimated for decades by industrial clearcut logging. Roots of trees anchor steep slopes. Logging increases the chances of landslides filling vital spawning grounds with mud, debris, and boulders. Shade from trees is lost increasing water temperatures. Other threats include overfishing, urbanization, hydroelectric dams, and fish farms.

Salmon play an important role sustaining forest ecology. Spawners bring vital nutrients from the ocean into the forest. Carcasses are dispersed by bears and eagles providing the trees with fertilizer; nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon. Salmon feed the rivers helping the survival of young salmon. Farmed salmon does not replicate this vital role and is detrimental to wild stocks. Dangers from fish farms include disease, pollution (including contaminating shellfish), predation on young wild salmon, and escapement (Atlantic salmon compete for food and habitat with wild stocks). Conservation actions include cleaning up salmon streams (ensuring clean and safe flowing environments), recycling, using biodegradable/organic products, and choosing wild salmon over farmed.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Rally for Wild Salmon

Parliament Buildings, May 8th @ 4pm



Sea Lice - Salmon aquaculture is prohibited in Alaska for economic and environmental reasons. Built along the shoreline, farmed salmon are particularly susceptible to diseases and parasites, such as sea lice, that can be lethal to fish. Sea lice, viruses and other pathogens have contaminated wild salmon stocks swimming nearby, many young wild salmon become infected and do not survive as a result.

Escapes - Atlantic salmon are an aggressive species that are not indigenous to the Pacific Northwest. Atlantic salmon have been found in dozens of rivers and lakes throughout British Columbia and Alaska. There is only one species of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) on the east coast whereas there are several species of salmon on the west coast. Atlantic salmon are strong competitors and have historically wiped out other east coast salmon pieces.

PCBs - Farmed fish is fattier and therefore can store more PCBs and other contaminants at levels of up to 10 times higher in farmed salmon. Polychlorinated biphenyls PCBs are mixtures of up to 209 individual chlorinated compounds. There are no known natural sources of PCBs, they are either oily liquids or solids, that have been used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment because they don't burn easily and are good insulators. The manufacture of PCBs was stopped in the U.S. in 1977 because of evidence that they build up in the environment (bioaccumulation; concentration increase at each tropic level) and can cause serious health effects. PCBs persist in the environment, fish absorb them from contaminated sediments and their food. Government regulations allow much higher levels of these contaminants in farmed salmon than are allowed in wild salmon.

Oil spill in Gulf Proves the Need for an Oil Free Coast in British Columbia

BC First Nations and environmental groups are calling on the federal government to implement a permanent ban on oil and gas development and tanker traffic on the North Coast of British Columbia, in light of the failed attempts to clean up the oil that is spewing from a sunken rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The Living Oceans Society, with an office in Vancouver, in a statement released on April 29, commented on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and how it may impact BC oil exploration. Despite having the required safety mechanism on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, an explosion occurred, the technology to stop the oil from spilling in to the ocean failed, and the weather delayed the clean up efforts. “Over 30 years ago the federal and provincial governments prohibited oil and gas development and oil tankers on this coast because they knew that the threat of an oil spill was too great, a clean up too hard, and our ocean too valuable.” says Jennifer Lash. Executive Director of Living Oceans Society. “Now the Enbridge Gateway project is threatening to bring over 225 oil tankers onto our coast every year putting at risk our whales, birds, fish, bears, and coastline.” In March 2010, 10 First Nations from the North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii banned oil tankers from their traditional territories. “The First Nations governments have taken action to protect the ocean that supports our communities,” says Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations. “Now we would like to see the same leadership from the federal government.” The groups are pointing to the challenges of cleaning up the spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a grim reminder that failed technology and bad weather can make the impossible even harder. “They thought they could contain the spill off the coast of Louisiana but every day they appear to be having more challenges,” says Nikki Skuce, Senior Energy Campaigner of Forest Ethics. “Apparently oil rigs are ‘considerably safer for the environment than tankers’ – which isn’t much reassurance as we’re asked to risk our coast for Enbridge’s profits. An oil spill on our North Coast would be an imaginable tragedy.” Metro Vancouver is also not immune to oil spills. In 2007, a major oil spill forced residents of a Burnaby neighbourhood from about 50 homes, and raised serious environmental concerns. In 2009, a cruise ship admitted responsibility for an oil spill on the waters of Vancouver harbour near Canada Place.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Whales Under Threat!

The International Whaling Commission has just unveiled a proposal to legalize commercial whale hunting for the first time in 24 years. Now, countries are deciding whether to support it -- or push back. Already, New Zealand's Foreign Minister has described some provisions as "unacceptable," "inflammatory," and "offensive." A massive global outcry is needed now, as other key countries choose how to react. Avaaz will deliver this petition to the Commission delegates each time it adds another 100,000 signatures -- sign below and spread the word!

Sign Petition

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Changing Durations of Southern Resident Killer Whale Discrete Calls

The increase of mean durations of discrete calls demonstrated here indicates that the Southern Residents are making a behavioral adjustment as a result of vessel noise. Because they are adjusting their vocal behavior, we must consider the very real possibility that engine noise is hindering their ability to communicate, and may well impact their efficiency at using acoustics to forage and navigate, as well. The results presented here underscore the importance of future research concerning the impact of vessel noise on Southern Resident killer whales and should be considered in the development of new conservation and management plans.

Click - Paper

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fraser River Chinook Salmon Main SRKW Prey Species

Species and stock identification of prey consumed by endangered southern resident killer whales in their summer range

ABSTRACT: Recovery plans for endangered southern resident killer whales Orcinus orca have identified reduced prey availability as a risk to the population. In order to better assess this risk, we studied prey selection from 2004 to 2008 in 2 regions of the whales’ summer range: San Juan Islands, Washington and the western Strait of Juan de Fuca, British Columbia. Following the whales in a small boat, we collected fish scales and tissue remains from predation events, and feces, using a fine mesh net. Visual fish scale analysis and molecular genetic methods were used to identify the species consumed. Chinook salmon, a relatively rare species, was by far the most frequent prey item, confirming previous studies. For Chinook salmon prey, we used genetic identification methods to estimate the spawning region of origin. Of the Chinook salmon sampled, 80 to 90% were inferred to have originated from the Fraser River, and only 6 to 14% were inferred to have originated from Puget Sound area rivers. Within the Fraser River, the Upper Fraser, Middle Fraser, South Thompson River and Lower Fraser stocks were inferred to currently be sequentially important sources of Chinook salmon prey through the summer. This information will be of significant value in guiding management actions to recover the southern resident killer whale population.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Orchive Tapes 232B-235B

232B - Aug 04, 2004 15:57, 95 - Annotations
Faint calls, boat noise.
Whales - A30,A12,A36,A11,A35,A73,A24,A4 2,A43,A25,I15

233A - Aug 04, 2004 16:44, 12 - Annotations
Lots of boat noise, faint calls, nice clear calls towards end of tape.
Whales - A30,A12,A36,A11,A35,A73,A24,A4 2,A43,A25,I15

233B - Aug 04, 2004 17:31, 32 - Annotations
Some boat noise, faint calls, echolocation.
Whales - A30,A12,A36,A11,A35,A73,A24,A4 2,A43,A25,I15

234A - Aug 04, 2004 18:19, 35 - Annotations
Boat noise, faint calls.
Whales - A30,A12,A36,A11,A35,A73,A24,A4 2,A43,A25,I15

234B - Aug 04, 2004 19:06, 65 - Annotations
Heavy rain, boat noise, few calls.
Whales - A30,A12,A36,A11,A35,A73,A24,A4 2,A43,A25,I15

235A - Aug 04, 2004 19:54, 18 - Annotations
Loud ambient noise, very faint calls, dolphins.
Whales - A30,A12,A36,A11,A35,A73,A24,A4 2,A43,A25,I15

235B - Aug 05, 2004 04:11, 81 - Annotations
Quiet ambient noise, dolphins at start, nice I15's calls.
Whales - A30,A12,A36,A11,A35,A73,A24,A4 2,A43,A25,I15

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Distant Relatives
232A - Aug 04, 2004 15:10, 48 - Annotations
Lots of boat noise, few faint calls, echolocation.
Whales - A30 A12 A36 A11 A35 A73 A24 A4 2 A43 A25 I15

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Orchive Logs - 2004 (230-231)

J16 / Slick
Tape Date Annotations
2004 230A Aug0404 06:49 76 - good calls
2004 230B Aug0404 07:42 29 - orcas rubbing
2004 231A Aug0404 13:38 196 - orcas rubbing
2004 231B Aug0404 14:22 32 - calls and echolocation

Thursday, February 18, 2010


There are a total of 14862 recordings, each of which is 45 minutes long for a total of 668790 minutes of audio. If you listened for 8 hours per day, it would take you 3.8 years to listen to all the recordings.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Luna Files

First recordings of Luna, discovering him making southern resident killer whale discrete calls in Nootka Sound, British Columbia 2003. (see report)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Calf J47

J35's new calf J47 was encountered in Puget sound by NOAA on January 3rd. This is the first calf born this year to the southern residents, a positive new year sign for this endangered population of killer whales.

pink baby
baby pusing


Monday, January 04, 2010

Dolphins should be treated as 'non-human' persons

Bottlenose Dolphin

Dolphins have long been recognised as among the most intelligent of animals but many researchers had placed them below chimps, which some studies have found can reach the intelligence levels of three-year-old children. Recently, however, a series of behavioural studies has suggested that dolphins, especially species such as the bottlenose, could be the brighter of the two. The studies show how dolphins have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self and can think about the future.