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Killer Whale Workshop

A round-table Killer Whale Workshop took place on September 24, 2012 at the "Marine Mammals of the Holarctic VII" conference held in Suzdal, Russia (near Moscow). The speakers presented results from their studies on various aspects of the biology of killer whales in different areas of the Pacific Ocean.

The first talk was by Olga Filatova (Faculty of Biology, Moscow State University). Her report was devoted to the results of studies on killer whales in different areas of eastern Kamchatka and the Commander Islands.


Olga Filatova answers questions


Noted Russian biologist Alexei V. Yablokov listens to the talk


Alexander Agafonov asks a question

The next speaker was Peter Olesiuk from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada. He shared the results of more than forty years study of killer whales in the waters of the Pacific coast of Canada.


Peter Olesiuk presents his talk

Tatiana Ivkovich from St. Petersburg State University told the workshop participants about the social structure of fish-eating killer whales in Avacha Gulf.


Tatiana Ivkovich gives her talk

Olga Belonovich (KamchatNIRO and Commander Reserve) shared her observations of mammal-eating killer whales that prey on seals near rookeries on the Commander Islands.


Olga Belonovich talks about mammal-eating killer whales

The report by Olga Shpak (IPEE RAS) also addressed mammal-eating killer whales, but from a different area — the western part of the Okhotsk Sea.


Olga Shpak gives her talk

Next Tatiana Shulezhko (Kamchatka Branch of the Pacific Institute of Geography FEB RAS) gave a presentation describing encounters with orcas on ship cruises in Far Eastern Seas. Then Ekaterina Borisova (Biology Department of Moscow State University) reported on preliminary results on genetic comparisons of fish-eating and mammal-eating killer whales while Michael Nagaylik (Biology Department of Moscow State University) spoke about the impact of salmon abundance on the behavior of fish-eating killer whales.

Overall, the results of these studies reported at the workshop confirmed that two genetically isolated killer whale ecotypes occur in the waters of the Russian Far East — fish-eating and mammal-eating. Since these ecotypes do not interbreed and are therefore independent populations with different sizes and status, it seems appropriate to consider them separately when assessing abundance, estimating human impact and awarding catch quotas.


Workshop participants

The workshop was funded by the Rufford Small Grants Foundation



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