Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Behavioral Preferences Within the Southern Resident Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Population at Lime Kiln Point State Park

Presenter Information

Rylee JensenFollow

Class

Article

Graduation Year

2019

College

S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources

Department

Wildland Resources Department

Faculty Mentor

Julie Young

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Abstract

The endangered Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca) is an iconic species in the Pacific Northwest, particularly around the San Juan Islands of Washington during the summer months. The population is made up of three pods (J, K, and L) and each individual is given an alpha-numeric identification to designate them to their birth pod and rank (i.e. L87). Although this population has been intensely studied over the past 40 years, there is no definitive answer biologists can give as to why whales perform above-surface, “percussive” behaviors such as breaching, cartwheeling, pec slapping, and tail lobbing. My study evaluates preferences for these behaviors between sexes and across age classes (calves, juveniles, subadult males, adult females, and adult males). My main objectives include examining the type and frequency of percussives across age/sex classes and identifying potential factors that influence the occurrence during a passby. Data collection took place from 20 May to 10 August 2016 between 0900 and 1700 each day when the whales were present within the study area. Over the course of the summer, we had a total of 21 whale days (out of an 83-day study period) with 24 total passbys that involved percussive behaviors, which I divided up based on which pod(s) were encountered. My initial results indicated that adult females performed the most percussives, tail slaps were the most common behavior performed, and that J pod was the most “active” pod. However, future analyses will be done to determine the proportion of behaviors within each age class and pod to discourage bias. In general, this study may provide an insight into how percussive behaviors may be indicators for overall behavior (i.e. varying travel patterns and group composition over the years) of this endangered population, which may be important for their conservation.

Location

South Atrium

Start Date

4-13-2017 1:30 PM

End Date

4-13-2017 2:45 PM

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Apr 13th, 1:30 PM Apr 13th, 2:45 PM

Behavioral Preferences Within the Southern Resident Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Population at Lime Kiln Point State Park

South Atrium

The endangered Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca) is an iconic species in the Pacific Northwest, particularly around the San Juan Islands of Washington during the summer months. The population is made up of three pods (J, K, and L) and each individual is given an alpha-numeric identification to designate them to their birth pod and rank (i.e. L87). Although this population has been intensely studied over the past 40 years, there is no definitive answer biologists can give as to why whales perform above-surface, “percussive” behaviors such as breaching, cartwheeling, pec slapping, and tail lobbing. My study evaluates preferences for these behaviors between sexes and across age classes (calves, juveniles, subadult males, adult females, and adult males). My main objectives include examining the type and frequency of percussives across age/sex classes and identifying potential factors that influence the occurrence during a passby. Data collection took place from 20 May to 10 August 2016 between 0900 and 1700 each day when the whales were present within the study area. Over the course of the summer, we had a total of 21 whale days (out of an 83-day study period) with 24 total passbys that involved percussive behaviors, which I divided up based on which pod(s) were encountered. My initial results indicated that adult females performed the most percussives, tail slaps were the most common behavior performed, and that J pod was the most “active” pod. However, future analyses will be done to determine the proportion of behaviors within each age class and pod to discourage bias. In general, this study may provide an insight into how percussive behaviors may be indicators for overall behavior (i.e. varying travel patterns and group composition over the years) of this endangered population, which may be important for their conservation.