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

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Two B.C. suspects of a Canada-wide manhunt reportedly recorded a cellphone video… Continue reading

Wildfire burning outside of Port Alberni

Coastal Fire Centre on scene

Sproat Lake residents oppose large-scale cannabis production in their neighbourhood

Community group calls public meeting for Aug. 21 to discuss implications to ACRD land

Firefighters extinguish brush fire near Port Alberni residential area

Fire off Kitsuksis Creek Trail believed to be human-caused

BCHL: Battle for Bulldogs’ roster spots heats up as main camp begins

Alberni Valley’s new head coach will get his first look at revamped Jr. A hockey team

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Police seek tips in 2015 death of Island teen Brown

Four years has passed since the body of Penelakut Island woman was discovered

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

B.C. log export rules killing us, northwest harvester says

NorthPac Forestry says Skeena Sawmills has plenty of timber

Most Read