Pathology reports on more than 50 killer whales stranded over nearly a decade in the northeast Pacific and Hawaii show that orcas face a variety of mortal threats — many stemming from human interactions.
A study analyzing the reports was published today in the journal PLOS ONE. The study findings indicate that understanding and being aware of each threat is critical for managing and conserving killer whale populations. It also presents a baseline understanding of orca health.
The study was conducted by a team of marine mammal and orca specialists led by the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and coordinated through the SeaDoc Society, a Washington-based program of the University of California, Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine. The lead author, Dr Stephen Raverty, and coauthor, Dr John Ford, are adjunct professions at the University of British Columbia Institute of Oceans and Fisheries and Department of Zoology, respectively.