Baleen whales are not important as prey for killer whales Orcinus orca in high-latitude regions Mehta, Amee V. Allen, Judith M. Constantine, Rochelle Garrigue, Claire Jann, Beatrice Jenner, Curt Marx, Marilyn K. Matkin, Craig O. Mattila, David K. Minton, Gianna Mizroch, Sally A. Olavarría, Carlos Robbins, Jooke Russell, Kirsty G. Seton, Rosemary E. Steiger, Gretchen H. Víkingsson, Gísli A. Wade, Paul R. Witteveen, Briana H. Clapham, Phillip J. 2011-04-26T14:41:22Z 2012-01-01T09:30:25Z 2007-10-25
dc.description Author Posting. © Inter-Research, 2007. This article is posted here by permission of Inter-Research for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Marine Ecology Progress Series 348 (2007): 297-307, doi:10.3354/meps07015. en_US
dc.description.abstract Certain populations of killer whales Orcinus orca feed primarily or exclusively on marine mammals. However, whether or not baleen whales represent an important prey source for killer whales is debatable. A hypothesis by Springer et al. (2003) suggested that overexploitation of large whales by industrial whaling forced killer whales to prey-switch from baleen whales to pinnipeds and sea otters, resulting in population declines for these smaller marine mammals in the North Pacific and southern Bering Sea. This prey-switching hypothesis is in part contingent upon the idea that killer whales commonly attack mysticetes while they are in these high-latitude areas. In this study, we used photographic and sighting data from long-term studies of baleen whales in 24 regions worldwide to determine the proportion of whales that bear scars (rake marks) from killer whale attacks, and to examine the timing of scar acquisition. The results of this study show that there is considerable geographic variation in the proportion of whales with rake marks, ranging from 0% to >40% in different regions. In every region, the great majority of the scars seen were present on the whales’ bodies when the animals were first sighted. Less than 7% (9 of 132) of scarred humpback whales with multi-year sighting histories acquired new scars after the first sighting. This suggests that most killer whale attacks on baleen whales target young animals, probably calves on their first migration from low-latitude breeding and calving areas to high-latitude feeding grounds. Overall, our results imply that adult baleen whales are not an important prey source for killer whales in high latitudes, and therefore that one of the primary assumptions underlying the Springer et al. (2003) prey-switching hypothesis (and its purported link to industrial whaling) is invalid. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship This study was supported in part by funding from the Marine Mammal Commission. en_US
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.identifier.citation Marine Ecology Progress Series 348 (2007): 297-307 en_US
dc.identifier.doi 10.3354/meps07015
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Inter-Research en_US
dc.subject Predation en_US
dc.subject Killer whale en_US
dc.subject Baleen whale en_US
dc.subject Scars en_US
dc.subject North Pacific en_US
dc.subject Whaling en_US
dc.title Baleen whales are not important as prey for killer whales Orcinus orca in high-latitude regions en_US
dc.type Article en_US
dspace.entity.type Publication
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