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Safina on orcas in LA Times


Save the salmon — and us Above is a link a nice Op-Ed piece by Carl Safina.  Below is my response, submitted today to the L.A. Times. In his 1/24/10 opinion “Save the salmon — and us,” Safina points out that new research says orcas prefer salmon.  But the in-press analysis of prey scraps by [...]

Harmful algae & Fraser sockeye – liveblog


Dr. Jack Rensel, Rensel Associates Aquatic Sciences (works with Puget Sound fish farmers on permitting/etc., but not BC farmers) Harmful Algal Blooms and Possible Effects on Fraser River Sockeye Salmon 11:04 Intro Much of this talk is based on co-author Nicola Haigh’s 10-year sockeye database. Target algae of interest: Heterosigma akashiwo, HAMP database 11:06 Background [...]

Orca refuge: a gift for endangered killer whales


This Friday, January 15, 2010, is the deadline for public comment on the proposed orca conservation area along the west side of San Juan Island. All marine conservationists should consider commenting on these precedent-setting rules: comment via email | comment via web form.  (Official background and the PDF of proposed rule are on the NOAA [...]

New tools for orca sound annotation


Here’s a glimpse into the future of killer whale sound archives. Steven Ness and collaborators at the University of Victoria have created the Orchive — a suite of open-source, web-based tools for listening to and annotating the recordings of northern resident orcas made by Paul and Helena Spong at OrcaLab. Using Ruby on Rails and [...]

Chinook data needed to interpret orca baby boom


Good national news is rolling in about 5 new southern resident whales and no deaths in 2009, plus one new baby thus far in 2010. Howard, Ken, and Brad allude to looking for correlations or explanations in chinook salmon abundance: It sounds simplistic, Garrett said, but “the way that we can tag the population fluctuations [...]

Researchers call for orca conservation zone in B.C.


Dec 23 Vancouver Sun article about a forth-coming science paper that proposes a conservation zone that overlaps with the proposed orca sanctuary boundaries: Wildlife researchers have identified the key feeding area for a critically endangered population of killer whales near Vancouver Island and proposed the creation of a unique, miniature conservation zone for the few [...]

Kalimari for orcas, or another salmon predator


Ron Hirschi, a local marine naturalist, is reporting Humbolt squid being caught on salmon gear in the central Strait of Juan de Fuca. Will they come all they way in in 2010? 11.30.09 Recreational salmon fishers are now catching them as far east as Sekiu in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Watch for further [...]

How NZ orcas hunt sharks


I was most impressed by this underwater photograph taken by Ingrid Visser of a New Zealand killer whale pursuing a mako shark. The associated article from the Daily Mail describes hunting techniques that smack of likely Southern Resident tactics: collaborative herding and stunning blows from the flukes. I wonder: does she have recordings of the [...]

Salmon court fallacy: we must spill or spew


There are some great observations and quotes in the liveblog of Matthey Preusch during the Nov 23, 2009, Salmon Court. This first one suggests a slight of hand or an ignorance of the primary findings of the Bright Future report — that we do not necessarily have to choose between spilling water for salmon in [...]

Bob Pitman talk on Antarctic orcas Nov. 18, 2009


It was like watching a lecture by a 19th century anthropologist just back from a scientific expedition deep in the Amazon jungle, enthralling the audience with incredible tales of outlandish natives and their curious customs.