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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health leading the way with innovative therapy for stroke patients

Percentage of ischemic stroke patients who received treatment has risen dramatically

Missing Nelson woman found dead

Police say there is no evidence of a crime in the death of Heather Gunderson

Foul play involved in Slocan Valley man’s death, police say

RCMP have identified dead man as 47-year-old Aaron Graham

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Supreme Court of Canada will hear Sinixt appeal May 12

B.C. has appealed Indigenous hunting case through several levels of court starting in Nelson in 2016

VIDEO: Minister says consider coronavirus outbreak when planning for spring break

Foreign Affairs minister points to rash of new cases appearing in places like Italy and Iran

B.C. man who pulled a gun on off-duty cop gets two years in prison

Encounter also led police to a home where 100 guns and explosives were found

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

COLUMN: Forestry no longer close to top of B.C.’s economy

Our reactions to a forestry downturn reflect the past, not the present

Caught on camera: Police release video of man who allegedly stole seaplane in Vancouver

Police say the man broke into the Harbour Air terminal and then got into one of the seaplanes in the harbour

51 health professionals send letter to Trudeau, Horgan panning northern B.C. pipeline

They point to studies about the health and climate change risks from pipeline

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Most Read