For the second time in as many weeks, a group of Bigg’s, or transient, killer whales, surfaced in Vancouver harbour to hunt seals on Tuesday, April 24, 2019. (Ocean Wise photo)

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

A group of killer whales was spotted looking for a meal in Vancouver Harbour this week.

The Bigg’s killer whales, also known as transient whales, were seen Tuesday hunting for seals – a more common occurrence as the weather warms up.

Unlike resident orcas, Bigg’s whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and other whales.

“Harbour seals are popular prey for these apex predators and they’re discovering hot spots where they can find an abundance of them — it appears the Vancouver harbour might be one of those spots,” said Lance Barrett-Lennard, director of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Research Centre, in a news release.

Exactly one week ago, a different pod of Bigg’s whales was seen hunting in the harbour. Some of the oldest members were born as far back as 1986, according to researchers.

They are still threatened under the Species at Risk Act, but B.C.’s population of Bigg’s are recovering, now at more than 300. Barrett-Lennard pointed to the healthy population of seals and sea lions as a main reason for the growth.

Researchers at the centre have been conducting a multi-year study of killer whales in the northeast Pacific Ocean, using unmanned drones to collect high-resolution images they then analyze to measure growth rates and changes in body condition.

They hope to determine whether orcas are getting their basic nutritional requirements, and to look at the impact of fluctuations in salmon population on body condition.

The study comes as calls grow to bring back the sea lion cull to protect Chinook salmon – the main food source for resident orcas, but not transients.

“Killing pinnipeds to protect Chinook salmon and help resident killer whales is akin to robbing Peter to pay Paul,” he said.

“A cull of the seal population in the Salish Sea would negatively impact mammal-eating killer whales, and because seals eat more salmon predators than they do salmon, it could even harm the fish-eating whales.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

North Island Rising: Political polarization

This fall there will be a minimum of four candidates wanting your vote here on the North Island.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: The last walk together

“I would give almost anything to be able to have another walk together”

North Island College holding information session on new culinary diploma

Get a sneak peek at the new culinary kitchen at the Campbell River campus

Council approves replacement of overhead heaters at Fire Hall

Port Hardy council has agreed to spend $11,000 on the replacement of… Continue reading

North Island Eagles minor rep hockey organization hand out year-end awards in Port McNeill

It was quite the season and then some for minor rep hockey here in the North Island.

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Volunteers already rescuing fry from drying creekbeds around Cowichan Lake

It’s early but already salmon fry are being left high and dry

Prepare yourself for tick season, says Island Health official

2017 saw three reported cases of Lyme disease

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72 and living in North Delta, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterrey, Calif.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

Most Read