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

Ucluelet releases COVID-19 Recovery Plan

Part of the recovery plan involves deploying three district staff as COVID-19 Community Monitors

Tofino mayor urges “kindness” as tourism reopens

“Health and safety matters to everyone.”

Resorts in Tofino and Ucluelet prepare to reopen in June

“We need to get the tourist economy in our communities back up and running.”

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve plans limited reopening on June 4

The Park Reserve shut down on March 18 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Pacific Rim Hospice Society gifting free wellness “check-ins” to all West Coast residents

“This pandemic has led to a lot of isolation and it’s helpful for anybody just to have a soundboard.”

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Stepdad able to walk bride down the aisle days before he passes away

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Most Read