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Spatial and temporal occurrence of killer whale ecotypes off the outer coast of Washington State, USA

TitleSpatial and temporal occurrence of killer whale ecotypes off the outer coast of Washington State, USA
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsRice A., Deecke V.B, Ford JKB, Pilkington JF, Oleson E.M, Hildebrand JA, Sirovic A.
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Date Published2017/05
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0171-8630
Accession NumberWOS:000403446100018
Keywordsabundance; behavior; british-columbia; california; mammals; marine; monitoring; north pacific; Northeastern Pacific; Orcinus orca; orcinus-orca; passive acoustic; predator; Prey preferences; seasonality; vancouver-island; whistles

Three killer whale Orcinus orca ecotypes inhabit the northeastern Pacific: residents, transients, and offshores. To investigate intraspecific differences in spatial and temporal occur rence off the outer coast of Washington State, USA, 2 long-term acoustic recorders were deployed from July 2004 to August 2013: one off the continental shelf in Quinault Canyon (QC) and the other on the shelf, off Cape Elizabeth (CE). Acoustic encounters containing pulsed calls were analyzed for call types attributable to specific ecotypes, as no calls are shared between ecotypes. Both sites showed killer whale presence year-round, although site CE had a higher number of days with encounters overall. Transients were the most common ecotype at both sites and were encountered mainly during the spring and early summer. Residents were encountered primarily at site CE and showed potential seasonal segregation between the 2 resident communities, with northern residents present mainly during summer and early fall when southern residents were not encountered. Offshore encounters were higher at site QC, with little evidence for seasonality. Spatial and temporal variability of residents and transients matches the distribution of their prey and can potentially be used for further inferences about prey preferences for different transient groups.

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