Editor’s Select Series Seminar: Echolocation behaviour of fish-eating killer whales during pursuit and capture of salmon prey

The SMM Seminar Editor’s Select Series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn and ask questions. All are welcome.

Guest, Brianna Wright of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) presents: “Echolocation behaviour of fish-eating killer whales during pursuit and capture of salmon prey

September 23, 2021 4-5:30 pm PDT (11 PM-1230 AM UTC)
Online. Free to attend. 

About this talk:
We used high-resolution acoustic and movement tags (Dtags) to analyse the echolocation behaviour of fish-eating killer whales during pursuit and capture of salmon prey. Whales produced more echolocation trains and had faster clicking rates prior to catching salmon versus afterward, confirming the importance of echolocation in prey detection and tracking. Extremely rapid click sequences (buzzes) occurred in the lead-up to salmon captures at depths typically exceeding 50 m, and were likely used for close-range prey targeting. Distinctive crunching sounds related to prey handling occurred at shallow depths following captures, matching observations that whales surfaced with salmon prior to eating them and often shared their prey.

About the presenter:
Brianna Wright received her B.Sc. majoring in Biology and Anthropology from the University of Victoria in 2007. During her undergrad she also participated in the UVic Biology Co-op program and studied at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. From 2008-2010, she worked as a Technician with the Cetacean Research Program of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) before returning to school and completing her M.Sc. in 2014 at UBC’s Marine Mammal Research Unit under the supervision of Dr. John Ford and Dr. Andrew Trites. Brianna’s thesis investigated the fine-scale foraging behaviour of resident killer whales using suction-cup attached tags that recorded dive depth, body position and acoustic behaviour of individual whales. She returned to work with DFO’s Cetacean Research Program at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo in July 2014, and is currently a marine mammal Biologist with this group. She has participated in killer whale and sea otter census surveys and offshore ship and aerial distance-sampling surveys for cetaceans. Analytically, her recent work has focused on spatial density modelling of survey data for cetacean species to estimate their distribution and abundance. She also conducts assessments of killer whale diet composition and prey sharing behaviour through field collection and analysis of prey remains.

Open access to all Marine Mammal Science papers is available to current SMM members. Open access to this article was made temporarily available to the public between September 20-September 30, 2021.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select  presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO

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