Polar Biology

, Volume 34, Issue 7, pp 1091–1096

Satellite tracking of a killer whale (Orcinus orca) in the eastern Canadian Arctic documents ice avoidance and rapid, long-distance movement into the North Atlantic

  • Cory J. D. Matthews
  • Sebastián P. Luque
  • Stephen D. Petersen
  • Russel D. Andrews
  • Steven H. Ferguson
Short Note

Abstract

Killer whales (Orcinus orca) occur in the eastern Canadian Arctic during the open-water season, but their seasonal movements in Arctic waters and overall distribution are poorly understood. During August 2009, satellite transmitters were deployed onto two killer whales in Admiralty Inlet, Baffin Island, Canada. A whale tracked for 90 days remained in Admiralty and Prince Regent Inlets from mid-August until early October, when locations overlapped aggregations of marine mammal prey species. While in Admiralty and Prince Regent Inlets, the whale traveled 96.1 ± 45.3 km day−1 (max 162.6 km day−1) and 120.1 ± 44.5 km day−1 (max 192.7 km day−1), respectively. Increasing ice cover in Prince Regent Inlet in late September and early October was avoided, and the whale left the region prior to heavy ice formation. The whale traveled an average of 159.4 ± 44.8 km day−1 (max 252.0 km day−1) along the east coast of Baffin Island and into the open North Atlantic by mid-November, covering over 5,400 km in approximately one month. This research marks the first time satellite telemetry has been used to study killer whale movements in the eastern Canadian Arctic and documents long-distance movement rarely observed in this species.

Keywords

Killer whales (Orcinus orcaEastern Canadian Arctic North Atlantic Satellite telemetry 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cory J. D. Matthews
    • 1
  • Sebastián P. Luque
    • 1
  • Stephen D. Petersen
    • 2
  • Russel D. Andrews
    • 3
  • Steven H. Ferguson
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 501 University CrescentWinnipegCanada
  3. 3.University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and the Alaska Sealife CenterSewardUSA

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