By becoming a member of the Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program you will be directly supporting research on wild killer whales. Continuing research will lead to a better understanding of the whales, their place in the ocean ecosystem, and the conservation measures necessary to protect them.




Whale Update....

Northern Residents

The Northern residents have been seen and heard recently! The A42s (formerly the A8s) were seen on and off from around Christmas until later January near Powell River. Sonora (A42) gave birth to a calf in Dec 2012. The calf, which is still unnamed, was seen interacting with the rest of the matriline, and we’re excited the calf spent its first birthday near Powell River. On January 24, pictures were taken of some Northern residents near Blackney Pass headed toward Blackney Sound. They were probably the C06s, which is an exciting encounter as they have not been sighted nearby in a while.  


Southern Residents

All three pods of southern residents have been around and everyone’s been really active. Thirteen members of K-Pod and 14 members of J-Pod and L87 were seen being social around Admiralty Inlet and Strait of Juan de Fuca on December 26. During this encounter L87 was tagged with a satellite transmitter by researchers at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center (read more about his tagging below). On January 6, L-pod was sighted with lots of breaching between Texada Island and Little River.    


Bigg's (Transients) 

Photo: News Media

On December 5, at least fourteen Bigg’s whales were sighted in Boundary Pass including the T35s, T38s, T75s, T185s and T186. December 11, the T35s, T38s, and T75s were seen again near Haro Strait. These whales were seen in a resting group – a behavior not commonly witnessed in Bigg’s. The T49s (including a young calf T49B3) were seen around Orcas Island on December 22. January 24 the T123s were seen feeding off Sooke and on Feb 3rd a group of Bigg’s was seen hunting Pacific white-sided dolphins near Departure Bay, Nanaimo.  Click here to see the YouTube video or to read the news story.  


February 2014
In this issue

 Whale Update
 Program Update
 Field Updates
 In the News 




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Adoption Program Update....

New Visiting Scientist!

We are excited to announce Christophe Guinet will be joining the Cetacean Research Program as a Visiting Scientist starting in February. Christophe is a researcher at the Centre of Biological Studies (Chizé), part of the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Chizé, France. His research focuses on how different oceanographic features can influence the foraging strategies of marine mammals and how these will in turn affect population demographics. While Christophe’s work on top marine predators is not limited to a single species, his work on killer whales was featured in the BBC documentary Killer Whales (2003) and he has even written a book about them - L’orque. During his visit, he will be working on his own research and collaborating with researchers at the Vancouver Aquarium. 




Field Notes....

Staff attend the bi-annual Marine Mammalogy Conference!

In December, Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard headed off to Dunedin, New Zealand to represent the Vancouver Aquarium’s Cetacean Research Program at the 20th Bi-annual International Marine Mammal Conference. Lance gave a talk about the BC Cetaceans Sightings Network’s new method of estimating volunteer observer effort and presented a poster about the Vancouver Aquarium’s Permanent Soundscape Monitoring System for Aquatic Animals. The international conference gives marine mammal researchers an excellent opportunity to connect with one another around the globe. Lots of killer whale research is taking place worldwide and Lance was right in the heart of sharing local killer whale tales and hearing about all sorts of encounters including great pictures of killer whales feeding off Southwestern Australia. Between trying to read over 400 posters and take in nearly 350 talks, Lance and was up to his ears in cutting edge marine mammal research. 

Photo: Society for Marine Mammalogy 



In the News....

Another Souther Resident satellite tagged

Photo: Northwest Fisheries Science Center
Researchers at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, led by Dr. Brad Hanson tagged another southern resident killer whale. On December 26th, L87 (a 21 year old southern resident also known as Onyx) was tagged with a satellite transmitter in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. L87 is commonly sighted with J-Pod and this research provides a better understanding on the movement of J-Pod throughout the winter months in the Salish Seas. The transmitter was attached to the left side of his dorsal fin with a dart. The dart was modified from the models used last year to mitigate detachment problems and was designed to remain in the dorsal fin for a shorter period of time. Onyx covered a lot of water heading north of Nanaimo, south of Seattle, west of Cape Flattery and lots of movement in between!  The transmitter seemed to have become detached while transmitting on Jan 26th, when it fell off about 30 miles west of Neah Bay. Watch Onyx’s journey through the Salish Seas here.  

Read More: Kitsap Sun