Killers on the Move

By Zeilig, Martin | Winnipeg Free Press, June 20, 2015 | Go to article overview

Killers on the Move


Zeilig, Martin, Winnipeg Free Press


Ice-free waters mean Orca whales appearing more frequently in Hudson Bay

From anecdotal evidence, sightings, Inuit traditional knowledge to photographic identification, there is no question the occurrence of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Hudson Bay is increasing, notes marine biologist Steve Ferguson, who works at the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Fresh Water Institute in Winnipeg.

Those fearsome, highly intelligent and social creatures were not known to be present in the region prior to the mid-1900s but there has been an exponential increase in sightings, according to a scientific paper, The Rise of Killer Whales as a Major Arctic Predator (Springer Link 2010), co-authored by Ferguson, who has PhD in biology from the University of Saskatchewan, and two former graduate students of his, Jeff Higdon and Elly Chmelnitsky.

Killer whales have taken advantage of the increasingly ice-free Arctic waters to hunt a number of marine mammals including beluga whales and bowhead whales, among other species. This often puts them in competition with Inuit hunters.

Ferguson, who was featured in a documentary film, Invasion of the Killer Whales, on Nature (PBS) last November, recently sat down with the Free Press to talk about his research on killer whales, decreased sea ice, and global warming.

Q. What spurred your interest in studying killer whales in Canadian Arctic waters?

A. About 10 years ago, a group of us, both DFO researchers and University of Manitoba graduate students, got together to talk about killer whales in the Arctic. The first step we took was to scour the literature and see what was known about killer whales in the Canadian Arctic.

That worked out pretty good. We were able to publish some papers in scientific journals. They summarized the known information about killer whales. Then, we went up to 12 different Inuit communities in Nunavut to interview hunters, elders and other people who had some experience seeing killer whales in the past.

That was really helpful because they knew a lot more about killer whales than we expected. The biggest surprise for me was their detailed natural history knowledge such as specific details on seeing killer whale predation events.

The third phase was to test and confirm the information we had from those interviews and use the scientific approach. We hired guides from different communities and tried to find killer whales in known 'hot spots'-- those sites that came up during our earlier interviews.

Q. What happened next?

A. If we located the killer whales, we would photograph them because you can identify them by their markings. We also had satellite tags that we'd shoot using a crossbow into the whale's dorsal fin. Satellite tags were pre-programmed to transmit the surfacing whales' location 300 times per day. The other approach was to take biopsy samples, also using a crossbow with a modified arrow that wouldn't injure the whales, but would allow us to have a small bit of skin for genetic analysis and stable isotope (biomarkers) testing to see what they're eating. We started doing this work from boats in 2009, and we've done it every summer since then.

Q. How successful have you been?

A. We've only had success twice in doing this work with satellite tags and biopsy samples because the killer whales are at low density, and they're always moving. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Killers on the Move
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.