A Whale of an Update
Scientists and non-scientists alike have made significant progress in our understanding and appreciation for killer whales (orca).
Many wonderful events have occurred in the past few years to enhance our understanding of killer whales. Here are just a few of the notable activities that happened in 2015:
2015 was a booming year for whale births. All the way into December, new babies were welcomed into whale pods. For the Southern Residents, 8 new baby orca introduced themselves bringing the total number of Souther Resident whales to 84. See the full list of new arrivals here. In addition, Canada’s National Broadcaster CBC provided a short documentary (advance to minute 32 in the video) about their resurgence.
For the Northern Residents, the population continues to show healthy growth and while we wait for the summary of 2015 births, as of 2014 the northern resident killer whale population numbered 290 individuals (growth chart is from the research report noted below).
Awesome Video Footage
Chris Wilton’s Youtube video of a chance sighting of Northern Resident Orcas rubbing their bellies on a beach directly in front of him and his friends was a viral hit with over 1.2 million views and counting.
Marine Detective, Jackie Hildering, wrote a great blog post to explain more about this specific event identifying the whales and explaining this unique whale behaviour.
Improved Websites and Collaborations
Explore.org added OrcaLab’s live camera feeds to their website. The network of underwater microphones, known as hydrophones, cover 50 square kilometers (20 square miles) of core orca habitat on British Columbia’s west coast. As a bonus feature visitors can sign up for text alerts (on the left hand side as you scroll down the explore.org page), which will send notifications when the orcas are active.
Updated Reference Materials
Researchers and non-profit organizations provided comprehensive new guides to track, identify and report on whale populations. The following reports are available online:
- Photo-identification Catalogue of the Northern Resident Killer Whale Population
- Photo-identification Catalogue for the Transient Killer Whale population.
- Matriline ID Guide of the Southern Resident Killer Whale Population.
Citizen Reporting Network
In addition to the fantastic work by professional research, The B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network (BCCSN) has developed a platform for everyone to provide information they have about whales. In 2015 they added a free mobile app called WhaleReport to make it easy for anyone to collect and report sightings.
The network has over 4,300 observers across British Columbia, ranging from whale watching operators, lighthouse keepers, researchers, or even recreational boaters gathering data on the occurrence of whales, dolphins and porpoises in BC waters. Throughout the year the BCCSN presents to thousands of British Columbians at schools, community groups, professional associations and festivals.
Want to learn even more about killer whales?
Check out the resources we have gathered on our reference page: The Magnificent Orca.
Want to see killer whales up close in the wild?
One of the most peaceful, non-intrusive ways to seek out whales is on a kayaking trip in Killer Whale territory!
Check out all the great available options to join a Wildcoast Orca Camp trip for your next outdoor adventure in the wilderness.
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