Antarctic Killer Whale Ecology Research



Antarctic Peninsula, November – December 2013 – This represents the sixth consecutive year of investigations by the Marine Mammal and Turtle Division at Southwest Fisheries Science Center into the ecology of Antarctic killer whales, with special emphasis on assessing the trophic impacts of killer whales as top predators within changing Antarctic marine systems. Hosted by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, Robert Pitman and Aimee Lang (November), and John Durban and Holly Fearnbach (December) are onboard the expedition ship EXPLORER, conducting research on killer whales by collecting photographs (for individual identification and photogrammetric measurements) and biopsy samples, and deploying satellite tags. Six groups of killer whales (two Types: A and small B) were sighted last week. In addition to collecting photographs and biopsy samples,satellite LIMPET tags were deployed on two individuals from two groups of Type A killer whales, which will enable the longer term monitoring of ranging patterns, habitat use and migration behavior, as well as facilitating relocation for follow-up studies later in the season.

Tagged Killer whales can be followed online at /MMTD-killerwhale-trackmap/

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LIMPET Tagging

A satellite LIMPET tag being deployed on the dorsal fin of a Type A killer whale near the Antarctic Peninsula. The tag was projected on a crossbow bolt (orange in photo), which rebounded and left the small (49g) tag attached to the fin (black with protruding antenna).


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