killer whales

Scientists develop a model to reveal wild killer whales’ diets

A new study presented a method to reconstruct killer whales’ diets using the lipid composition of their blubber. By measuring these lipids, called fatty acids, in the killer whales’ fat and those in their potential prey, scientists can estimate the abundance of each prey species in the whales’ diet. This new method may hold the …

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Why do baby orcas look orange?

Every time a southern resident calf is born, orca lovers all around the world sigh in relief. The critically endangered population is struggling to stay healthy in an environment full of stressors, including noise, chemical pollution, and a serious lack of food. You might have come across baby orca photos in the news. Have you …

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The Leopard Seal – September 2021

Welcome to our new “whale of the month,” the leopard seal. This muscular seal has a large reptilian-like head and is the third-largest pinniped in the world. This Antarctic seal has also been featured in a TikTok video on a beach in South Australia, a couple of days ago. Whether you came here from TikTok …

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Some fish-eating orcas have worn out teeth: Here’s why

Worn-out teeth, also called tooth wear, are pretty common in cetaceans. Although there are many documented cases of tooth wear in captivity, worn-out teeth exist in wild whales. And especially those who eat a lot of fish, like herring-eating killer whales. In this post, we explain why eating some fish can damage wild killer whale …

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Preying on marine mammals might be threatening the survival of Icelandic orcas

Scientists have for a long time thought that orcas in Iceland specialized in eating fish (like herring). Recently, however, experts have noticed that some Icelandic orcas seem to enjoy another type of snack: marine mammals. This could be a problem, and eating marine mammals could threaten the long-term survival of these orcas. In this post, …

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Third newborn for Southern Residents: Killer whale baby boom

L125 orca

Fresh news in the killer whale world, Surprise! (L-86) just gave birth! Since July 2020, three different Southern Resident Killer whales have given birth! J35, Tahlequah, who lost her baby about two years ago, gave birth on September 6th, 2020, to a baby boy, J57. Next, J41, Eclipse, was the second mom, giving birth to …

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The Mystery of Menopausal Whales

What do middle-aged women and whales have in common? Perhaps the unexpected answer is … menopause. Although they don’t have to suffer through hot flashes and mood swings, several whale species stop getting pregnant midway through life. So-called post-reproductive lifespans have puzzled biologists for years. After all, evolutionary theory taught us that the whole purpose …

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Whale Scientists Story: Danielle Conry

Danielle Conry

Marine mammalogist Danielle is a 31 years-old South African working on killer whales for the Marion Island Marine Mammal Programme (MIMMP). Her journey has involved many exciting opportunities that has led her to where she is now. She discusses how COVID-19 has halted some of her plans, but has not deterred her in the slightest. Danielle discusses with us her very unique killer whale necropsy and how she found love in the process…

Orca Awareness Month: Southern Residents (Part Two)

Make sure to read Part 1 before you read this post. Regrettably, Part 2 is a bit of a downer but is necessary to address. The SRKWs population has been drastically decreasing. The most recent population estimate indicates a total of 73 individuals remaining. Scientists have identified three main threats to the SRKW population: starvation, …

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Orca Awareness Month: Southern Residents (Part One)

June is Orca Awareness Month! We wanted to focus this post on the Southern Residents because they are the most endangered population of killer whales. Yet, they are among the most studied whales in the world. We know so much about them. Here is a little introduction to these beautiful majestic whales. Populations and Ecotypes …

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