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Killer Whale Update

2015 12-07 Orca Update

December is our best month for killer whale sightings !   Sign-up now while conditions are great !

Here is an update on the identity of the Bigg’s* killer whales that the Condor Express watched closely for about a hour on Saturday near Chinese Harbor, Santa Cruz Island.

Our friend, Alisa Schulman-Janiger, co-author** of the photo-ID catalogue of California killer whales, concluded there were 7 killer whales representing 3 different matrilines***, the CA49s, the CA50s, and the CA51As. Further, says Alisa, the CA51As have a calf and a juvenile in this pod.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express

The complete photoset from Saturday’s excursion is now online at: https://www.condorexpressphotos.com/2015/2015-12-05-SB-Channel/

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*Researchers have begun to call the transient, mammal-eating killer whales in the northeastern Pacific “Bigg’s killer whales.” This group is considered by some to be a separate sub-species and perhaps even a distinct species. The name “Bigg’s” has been proposed to honor Michael Bigg, the killer whale researcher from the Pacific northwest that originally identified the transient population as being separate from resident, fish-eating killer whales.

** Black, N. A., A. Schulman-Janiger, R. L. Ternullo, and M. Guerrero-Ruiz. 1997. Killer whales of California and western Mexico: a catalog of photo-identified individuals. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SWFSC-247, 174 pp.

***A matriline is a “mother line,” a line of descent from a mother or other female ancestor to offspring. Killer whales form pods headed up by female ancestors such as mothers or grandmothers.

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