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

 

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

Chamber of commerce wants to check out Nanaimo’s best Christmas lights

Residents and businesses asked to submit their addresses by this Wednesday, Dec. 11

Nanaimo Crime Stoppers stockings make perfect stuffers

Nanaimo Crime Stoppers raising cash with limited-edition socks sale

Firefighters called to burning motorhome on Nanaimo’s waterfront

Nanaimo Fire Rescue extinguishes blaze Monday afternoon on Esplanade and Irwin Street

Nanaimo blues musician’s mother’s home burglarized and ransacked

Judy Woodruff discovers bedroom of home in south Nanaimo turned upside-down; jewelry and art stolen

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Citizens pay own childcare costs, so should councillors

Councillors shouldn’t receive a benefit that minimum-wage earners don’t, says letter writer

Firefighters called to burning motorhome on Nanaimo’s waterfront

Nanaimo Fire Rescue extinguishes blaze Monday afternoon on Esplanade and Irwin Street

First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

Leadership calling for urgent action and resources to remove obstruction on the Fraser

Snuneymuxw First Nation shuffles leadership with council election

Three incumbents return as five of 10 council seats contested

No flu outbreaks in Nanaimo yet, but health authority still recommends flu shot

Dr. Paul Hasselback says 260,000 doses of vaccine distributed so far

Couple collecting empties for VIU scholarships can’t pick up cans on campus anymore

Parmars have been picking up cans for 12 years; university now enforcing safety policy

Assessed value of Lower Mainland homes expected to decrease in 2020

Other areas of province may see modest increases over last year’s values

Chilliwack family’s therapy dog injured in hit and run

Miniature pit bull Fifty’s owner is a single mother facing close to $10,000 in vet bills

Cougar destroyed in Penticton area after mauling dog, killing cat

This is the first reported incident with a cougar this year in the Penticton area

Most Read