DFO and Partners Lay out Action Plan to Protect Killer Whale
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
January 30, 2002
Courtesy of /CCN/
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--Fisheries and Oceans Canada has brought
together an expert team of marine mammal scientists from the Vancouver
Aquarium and the Center for Whale Research based out of Washington State to
develop an action plan to protect a juvenile killer whale (orca) separated
from its pod earlier last summer.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada marine mammal scientists have confirmed
sightings of a lone, juvenile killer whale in a remote inlet off the west
coast of Vancouver Island. Department staff, with the assistance of the
Centre of Whale Research in Friday Harbour, Washington, U.S.A., have
identified the whale as L98, a two and a half-year old juvenile, male from L
pod, one of three southern resident killer whale pods.
The southern resident killer whale population has been steadily declining in
recent years - 99 whales in 1996 to 78 whales in 2001 - and L pod has been
particularly affected by this decline. The southern resident killer whale
population, often found in the Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound, was
recently listed as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered
Wildlife in Canada.
Action Plan Highlights
* DFO research staff, the Center for Whale Research, and the Vancouver
Aquarium will monitor the status of the whale on a regular basis and
determine future steps.
* DFO will enhance conservation and protection patrols as required to ensure
the whale is not disturbed.
* DFO will provide information to the public on appropriate marine mammal
* DFO staff have already begun monitoring the juvenile. L98 appears to be in
good health and scientific observers report that he has been hunting and
feeding adequately. Experts agree that the whale is unlikely to be
reconnected with L pod because this group has never been recorded at or near
this location since studies began over 25 years ago.
"Fisheries and Oceans Canada takes protection of marine mammals very
seriously," said Paul Macgillivray, Regional Director of Fisheries
Management. "We are committed to the protection of this species and are
developing a management strategy to address the long-term health of marine
mammals on the Pacific coast."
"This is a very rare event and our action plan will be key to ensuring the
health and well-being of this young whale," said Dr. John Ford, Head of the
Marine Mammal Group at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. "The Vancouver Aquarium
has over 30 years of experience with killer whales, and is pleased to assist
in the effort to reunite this whale with its pod," said Dr. Lance
Barrett-Lennard, Marine Mammal Scientist at the Aquarium. "In this case, a
combined effort is particularly important as the whale in question belongs
to a critically affected population."
"Every individual whale is important to the population. We are optimistic
that this whale will survive and will be reunited with its family," said Ken
Balcomb, Director of The Center for Whale Research in Washington State.