Mysterious Killer Whales Come Inshore – 30/3/11

A group of 12 offshore killer whales was extremely active right in front of the Port McNeil community on March 30th; even repeatedly spyhopping. To have whales this visible near your home is a great gift but, all the more remarkable is that these were very mysterious, threatened whales.

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Mature male offshore killer whale photographed on March 27, 2011 for research purposes by J. Hildering (telephoto lens).

Inshore sightings of these whales provide a very unique opportunity to learn more about them e.g. what they are eating when inshore and why they are so full of toxins.  It is puzzling that offshores killer whales appear to becoming inshore more often and this may be due to a shift in diet or range in their prey.

Luckily one of the world’s leading killer whale researchers, Graeme Ellis of the Pacific Biological Station, was able to join the offshores in front of Port McNeill for this research opportunity.  He was alerted to their presence by the superstars at the Orca Lab (Leah Robinson and Marie Fournier) who first heard these whales’ unique vocals in the Robson Bight area on March 25th

I too was extraordinarily privileged to be able to contribute some ID photographs from sightings on March 27th and . . . I don’t think I’ll ever quite be the same after watching these mystery whales surfing in 3’ waves.

It all just goes to show that you never know who you’ll meet on Northern Vancouver Island!

-Jackie

This story was adapted from a blog post from The Marine Detective.  Read the full blog post here

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