MEPS 572:255-268 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12158

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

Ally Rice1,*, Volker B. Deecke2, John K. B. Ford3, James F. Pilkington3, Erin M. Oleson4, John A. Hildebrand1, Ana Širović

1Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92037, USA
2Centre for Wildlife Conservation, University of Cumbria, Ambleside, LA22 9BB, Cumbria, UK
3Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nanaimo, British Columbia V9T 6N7, Canada
4Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Three killer whale Orcinus orca ecotypes inhabit the northeastern Pacific: residents, transients, and offshores. To investigate intraspecific differences in spatial and temporal occurrence 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.


KEY WORDS: Orcinus orca · Seasonality · Prey preferences · Passive acoustic monitoring · Northeastern Pacific


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Cite this article as: Rice A, Deecke VB, Ford JKB, Pilkington JF, Oleson EM, Hildebrand JA, Širović A (2017) Spatial and temporal occurrence of killer whale ecotypes off the outer coast of Washington State, USA. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 572:255-268. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12158

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