"killer whales"

Photo – Robert Pitman/Public domain
Killer whales jumping

Level 3

Scientists studying sea life need help from the public.  Many large pods
of killer whales are coming to visit.  And they are coming more often.
Dr. John Ford studies killer whales around Vancouver Island.
He said people saw transient killer whales in groups of up to 30
in the last few weeks.  And scientists do not know why.

Read the PDF. Try the exercise.

Usually these whales come in late August and early September.
The whales come to hunt young seals, which are born in the spring.

How you can help
Ford wants the public to watch the waters around Nanaimo.
Then he wants them to report if they see whales.
There is a killer whale hotline at 1-866-I-SAW-ONE.
These reports help scientists.  These reports tell them
when to go out in boats to see whales.

Remember, people are not allowed to get closer
than 100 metres to a whale or other marine mammals.

Transient whales are hunters
The number of harbour seals and sea lions is now high.
Maybe this is why orcas are visiting earlier.
There are about 250 transient killer whales.
These whales move up and down from Alaska to Washington.
Only 50 killer whales were seen in the 1970s.

Killer whales that eat fish live in the Strait of Georgia (see link for maps).
They stay together all the time.  So, they are easy to study.
Transient killer whales are hunters and meat-eaters.
They travel a long way for their prey or food.
They sometimes hunt alone or in small groups.

How to ID whales
Killer whales have a dorsal fin on their backs.
These fins are like fingerprints. Scientists take pictures of the fins.
They also take pictures of the saddle patches
or grey shapes on the whale’s back.

Each whale has different marks on its dorsal fin.
Each saddle patch has a different shape.
We photograph these markings to identify killer whales.