Local orcas’ favorite meal: B.C. chinook – Seattle Times

Really good article, worth reading the whole thing. Some debate as to whether this has been historically true or not, (I’ve heard doubters say that they saw Orcas feeding off other runs than Chinook in the past), but this is good solid science showing that the whole “Salish Sea” basin (includes Canadian waters) along with the rivers feeding them (like the Fraser) is incredibly important to the continued health of the Orca populations. The article points out that they may be eating the Frasier chinook for a variety of reasons, including their abundance and size, so it is likely that they might have eaten other species of salmon in years gone by. Working cooperatively with the Canadians is more imporant than ever, and from what I’ve seen in east Vancouver, they are losing salmon habitat fast there with the suburbs.

4/14 Seattle Times
Local orcas’ favorite meal: B.C. chinook
By Lynda V. Mapes
Seattle Times staff reporter

While here at home in their summer range, Puget Sound’s endangered orca whales dine almost exclusively on salmon from Canada, scientists have learned, underscoring the connected nature of the Salish Sea ecosystem.

During the summers of 2004-08, scientists tracked the J, K and L pods of orcas (also known as killer whales) in the western end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands, to learn what they were eating and analyze where their food came from. No easy task, the work involved following the orcas in small boats and gathering killer-whale excrement and regurgitation, fish scales and other tissue with a fine mesh net after the whales ate.

Examination of the material, including DNA testing, revealed that the orcas select chinook salmon nearly exclusively for food, despite far more abundant numbers of pink and sockeye in the area at the same time.

More at

%d bloggers like this: