Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

Moray, United Kingdom

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

Moray, United Kingdom
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Williams R.,University of Washington | Williams R.,University of British Columbia | Williams R.,University of St. Andrews | Krkosek M.,University of Otago | And 9 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) of marine resources attempts to conserve interacting species. In contrast to single-species fisheries management, EBM aims to identify and resolve conflicting objectives for different species. Such a conflict may be emerging in the northeastern Pacific for southern resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) and their primary prey, Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Both species have at-risk conservation status and transboundary (Canada-US) ranges. We modeled individual killer whale prey requirements from feeding and growth records of captive killer whales and morphometric data from historic live-capture fishery and whaling records worldwide. The models, combined with caloric value of salmon, and demographic and diet data for wild killer whales, allow us to predict salmon quantities needed to maintain and recover this killer whale population, which numbered 87 individuals in 2009. Our analyses provide new information on cost of lactation and new parameter estimates for other killer whale populations globally. Prey requirements of southern resident killer whales are difficult to reconcile with fisheries and conservation objectives for Chinook salmon, because the number of fish required is large relative to annual returns and fishery catches. For instance, a U.S. recovery goal (2.3% annual population growth of killer whales over 28 years) implies a 75% increase in energetic requirements. Reducing salmon fisheries may serve as a temporary mitigation measure to allow time for management actions to improve salmon productivity to take effect. As ecosystem-based fishery management becomes more prevalent, trade-offs between conservation objectives for predators and prey will become increasingly necessary. Our approach offers scenarios to compare relative influence of various sources of uncertainty on the resulting consumption estimates to prioritise future research efforts, and a general approach for assessing the extent of conflict between conservation objectives for threatened or protected wildlife where the interaction between affected species can be quantified. © 2011 Williams et al.

Filatova O.A.,Moscow State University | Deecke V.B.,University of St. Andrews | Deecke V.B.,Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center | Ford J.K.B.,Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans | And 6 more authors.
Animal Behaviour | Year: 2012

Although killer whale, Orcinus orca, dialects have been studied in detail in several populations, little attempt has been made to compare dialect characteristics between populations. In this study we investigated geographical variation in monophonic and biphonic calls among four resident populations from the North Pacific Ocean: Northern and Southern residents from British Columbia and Washington State, southern Alaska residents, and eastern Kamchatka residents. We tested predictions generated by the hypothesis that call variation across populations is the result of an accumulation of random errors and innovation by vertical cultural transmission. Call frequency contours were extracted and compared using a dynamic time-warping algorithm. We found that the diversity of monophonic calls was substantially higher than that of biphonic calls for all populations. Repertoire diversity appeared to be related to population size: in larger populations, monophonic calls were more diverse and biphonic calls less diverse. We suggest that the evolution of both monophonic and biphonic calls is caused by an interaction between stochastic processes and directional selection, but the relative effect of directional selection is greater for biphonic calls. Our analysis revealed no direct correlation between call repertoire similarity and geographical distance. Call diversity within predefined call categories, types and subtypes, showed a high degree of correspondence between populations. Our results indicate that dialect evolution is a complex process influenced by an interaction among directional selection, horizontal transmission and founder effects. We suggest several scenarios for how this might have arisen and the implications of these scenarios for call evolution and population history. © 2011 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Filatova O.A.,Moscow State University | Guzeev M.A.,Saint Petersburg State University | Fedutin I.D.,Moscow State University | Burdin A.M.,Russian Academy of Sciences | Hoyt E.,Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
Biology Bulletin | Year: 2013

We investigated the influence of the type of activity and the social context on the proportion of four different structural categories of stereotyped calls in the acoustic communication of Kamchatkan killer whales. Using generalized linear models, we described the dependence of each sound category on the type of activity, the number of killer whale pods and the presence of mixed-pod groups. We found that the proportion of different sound categories depended on the number of pods and the presence of mixed-pod groups, while the type of activity did not affect the proportion of sounds of different categories. Based on the observed differences we suggest that biphonic and high-frequency monophonic calls are mainly used as family and pod markers, and help to track the position of family members at long ranges, and low-frequency monophonic calls are used as close-range intra-group signals to maintain contact between pod members in the conditions of limited underwater visibility. © 2013 Pleiades Publishing, Inc.

Nagaylik M.M.,Moscow State University | Filatova O.A.,Moscow State University | Ivkovich T.V.,Saint Petersburg State University | Burdin A.M.,Russian Academy of Sciences | Hoyt E.,Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
Zoologicheskii Zhurnal | Year: 2010

The area usage by killer whales in Avacha Gulf (Kamchatka) was investigated. The activity type and GPS position with at least 5 min intervals were recorded. Photoidentification and acoustic recordings were used for the determination of pods, clans, and ecotypes. Resident groups of the Avacha clan were found to have the centre of their activities around Cape Opasnyi, at depths of less than 100 m. It is a spawning area for the Atka mackerel (Pleurogrammus monopterygius). Comparing GPS positions for the feeding events in 2005 and 2006 showed that in 2006, killer whales used a smaller area for the feeding activities; their feeding sites have shifted to the south. Killer whales from resident clan K19 were found in Avacha Gulf less frequently; they usually traveled farther from the shores; their GPS registrations were randomly distributed in the area. Transient groups were mostly recorded in the areas with depths between 50 and 100 m. The results obtained suggest the existence of inter- and intrapopulational differences in the area usage by killer whales near Kamchatka.

Simmonds M.P.,Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society | Brown V.C.,Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
Wildlife Research | Year: 2010

There is currently an unprecedented expansion of marine renewable-energy developments, particularly in UK waters. Marine renewable-energy plants are also being developed in many other countries across Europe and in the wider world, including in the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Large-scale developments, in UK waters, covering thousands of square kilometres are now planned; however, data on the likely impact of this expansion on the 28 cetacean species found in UK waters are lacking, or at best limited. However, the available information, including inferences drawn from the impact of other human activities in the marine environment, indicates a significant risk of negative consequences, with the noise from pile driving highlighted as a major concern. The marine renewable-energy industry will also deploy some novel technologies, such as large submerged turbines, with unknown consequences for marine wildlife. Further research is urgently required, including distributional and behavioural studies, to establish baselines against which any changes may be measured. Precautionary actions, particularly with respect to pile driving, are advocated to minimise impacts on cetaceans. © CSIRO 2010.

Lazareva E.M.,Moscow State University | Filatova O.A.,Moscow State University | Burdin A.M.,Alaska Sealife Center | Burdin A.M.,Pacific Institute of Geography | Hoyt E.,Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
Zoologicheskii Zhurnal | Year: 2010

Odontocete echolocation has been actively studied in captivity, but there are few studies in the wild. Parameters of echolocation trains in free-ranging killer whales (Orcinus orca) are analyzed under different types of activity (foraging and traveling) and during foraging on different prey (salmon and Atka mackerel). The following parameters are compared: the length of the train, number of clicks in the train, interclick intervals, and repetition rate. Parameters of echolocation trains showed significant differences between the types of activity. Differences in the use of echolocation during foraging on different preys that suggests different strategies of hunting on different fish species were found.

Elizabeth Alter S.,Natural Resources Defense Council | Simmonds M.P.,Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society | Brandon J.R.,University of Washington
Marine Policy | Year: 2010

While climate change is expected to affect cetaceans primarily via loss of habitat and changes in prey availability, additional consequences may result from climate-driven shifts in human behaviors and economic activities. For example, increases in shipping, oil and gas exploration and fishing due to the loss of Arctic sea ice are highly likely to exacerbate acoustic disturbance, ship strikes, bycatch and prey depletion for Arctic cetaceans. In the tropics, climate change may result in increased hunting pressure on near-shore dolphins and whales off Asia, Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere as the availability of other marine resources diminishes. This study explores the range of potential consequences to cetaceans worldwide from predicted climate-driven shifts in human behavior, and evaluates the risks to particular species given their geographic ranges and habitat preferences. While concern about impacts of climate change on cetaceans has largely focused on polar species, the analysis presented here suggests tropical coastal and riverine cetaceans such as the Irawaddy dolphin, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, and finless porpoise are particularly vulnerable to those aspects of climate change that are mediated by changes in human behavior. Policy recommendations include the following: (1) information about cetacean populations should be incorporated into national, regional and international climate adaptation decisions wherever possible (for example, via GEF-sponsored adaptation initiatives); and (2) human-mediated impacts of climate change should be included in cetacean conservation and management plans, such as the management procedures of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), where possible. Because human responses to climate change are likely to evolve rapidly over the coming years and decades, it is important that local, regional and international cetacean conservation and management plans include regular reviews to allow them to adapt to new information. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Filatova O.A.,Moscow State University | Burdin A.M.,Russian Academy of Sciences | Hoyt E.,Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
Zoologicheskii Zhurnal | Year: 2011

Unlike most other mammals, killer whales are capable of vocal learning and learn the dialect of their natal pod from their mothers. The classical model of killer whale dialect development suggests that the repertoire of sounds is learned only "vertically" from mother to offspring, and calls evolve gradually with time by random drift caused by accumulation of copying errors. However, some observations suggest that not only "vertical" (from mother to offspring) vocal learning can occur in killer whales, but also "horizontal" (between adult animals). In this study we have analyzed the distribution of different call types and similarity of calls from the same type in different pods of killer whales from Kamchatka waters to estimate the probability of existence of inter-pod horizontal transmission of vocal traditions in killer whales. We have found that similarity of Kl calls and K5 calls in different pods often don't correspond with each other. This situation contradicts the classical hypothesis and is possible in two cases: if different call types change with various speed in different pods, or if horizontal transmission of call features takes place. Distribution of K4 and K10 call types across pods also suggests the existence of horizontal transmission: K4 calls occur in the dialects of 5 pods from 10, KlO calls - in 6 pods from 10, but only one pod has both K4 and K10 calls. Our results suggest that the real picture of call features and call types distribution in killer whale dialects contradicts the classical hypothesis of killer whale dialect evolution by accumulation of copying errors.

Filatova O.A.,Moscow State University | Witteveen B.H.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Goncharov A.A.,RAS A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution | Tiunov A.V.,RAS A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution | And 3 more authors.
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2013

Humpback whales feed on a variety of prey, but significant differences likely occur between regional feeding grounds. In this study, the diets of humpback whales were analyzed by comparing stable isotope ratios in animal tissues at three humpback whale feeding grounds in the Russian Far East: Karaginsky Gulf, Anadyr Gulf, and the Commander Islands. Anadyr Gulf is a neritic zone far from a shelf break, Karaginsky Gulf is a neritic zone close to a shelf break, and the Commander Islands represent an open oceanic ecosystem where whales feed off the shelf break. Samples from the Commander Islands had the lowest mean δ13C and δ15N values (mean ± SE: δ13C = -18.7 ± 0.1, δ15N = 10.4 ± 0.1) compared to the samples from Karaginsky Gulf (δ13C = -17.2 ± 0.1, δ15N = 12.7 ± 0.2) and Anadyr Gulf (δ13C= -17.8 ± 0.1, δ15N = 14.0 ± 0.4). The samples from Anadyr Gulf had the highest δ15N values, while the samples from Karaginsky Gulf had the highest δ13C values. Both δ13C and δ15N values differed significantly among all three areas. Our data support the hypothesis that humpback whales tend to feed on fish in neritic areas and on plankton in deep oceanic waters. © 2012 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

News Article | January 5, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

Humpback whales which abundantly arrive in the waters of Hawaii in wintertime have been slow to show up this year, puzzled scientists have reported. The annual return of the iconic creatures is a highlight of the season and a considerable source of income for operators of whale-watching tours; however, the giant marine mammals have been reportedly difficult to spot so far. It's unclear why so few have been observed, said an official at the Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary. "This isn't a concern, but it's of interest," said Maui-based Ed Lyman, a resource protection manager who acts as response coordinator for the sanctuary. "One theory was that something like this happened as whales increased. It's a product of their success." The population may have gone up, which could have affected the timing of their annual winter journey from Alaskan waters to warmer seas of Hawaii. Before setting off on their migrations, the whales build up fat reserves by feeding on krill and small fish. "With more animals, they're competing against each other for that food resource, and it takes an energy of reserve to make that long migration over 2,000 miles," Lyman added. He also suggested that these whales could also be spending more time in northern waters, possibly because of ocean changes linked to El Niño. A study [PDF] by the World Wildlife Fund and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society published in 2007 suggested that rising ocean temperatures might cause some species of whale to "shift their distributions to remain within optimal habitat." While there have been fewer sightings around Hawaii so far this winter, an accurate count will have to wait for the annual official whale counts conducted at the end of January, February and March, said Jeff Walters, former co-manager of the sanctuary. "They don't necessarily show up in the same place at the same time every year," he said. Every winter, about 10,000 humpbacks make the journey from Alaska to Hawaii, usually in small groups of three or four whales, to mate and give birth among larger groups, known as pods that congregate in Hawaiian waters. The humpback whale winter season in the Hawaiian archipelago normally runs from November to May. Humpback whales enjoy protection as an endangered species, and by federal law, cannot be approached closer than 100 yards by boats. Adult humpbacks can grow to 40 or 50 feet long and weigh about 80,000 pounds.

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