The research vessel Gikumi, used by a UBC team to study southern resident killer whales in the Fraser River in August 2019. (Andrew Trites/UBC)

VIDEO: UBC scientists use drones to study southern resident killer whales

Main question is whether endangered southern residents are getting enough chinook salmon

Scientists at UBC are using aerial drones to study whether endangered southern resident killer whales are getting enough of their preferred prey, chinook salmon.

They spent three weeks in August and September monitoring pods of southern and northern resident killer whales in the Salish Sea and off the central coast of B.C.

Project lead Andrew Trites says because of a lack of historical data and behavioural observations of southern residents, the northern residents are an important point of comparison.

He says like southern residents, they feed primarily on chinook and chum salmon and face many similar threats from water and noise pollution, increased shipping traffic and reduced abundance of food but unlike their southern counterparts, the northern population has increased significantly.

The southern resident killer whales number 73 while their northern counterparts stand at about 300.

Over the coming months, the team will analyze their data and try to build a comprehensive picture of resident killer whale feeding behaviour to inform conservation and recovery efforts.

READ MORE: ‘Orcas are not for entertainment:’ Activist plans to disrupt West Coast whale watching

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A southern resident killer whale swimming past a school of salmon near the Fraser River in August 2019. (Keith Holmes/Hakai Institute)

UBC team members launching a drone to study whales in August 2019. (Andrew Trites/University of British Columbia)

Just Posted

School District announces Rick Hansen Foundation difference-maker award winners

Creston student Alexis Folk and Nelson teacher Chris Mieske recognized by the Rick Hansen Foundation

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

RDEK urges residents to be prepared for emergencies including flooding, wildfire

The East Kootenay region has been placed on a high streamflow advisory

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Most Read