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Surveying Killer Whale Abundance and Distribution
In the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands


group of resident killer whales

A group of resident-type killer whales seen on the southwest side of Adak Island. Photo by Robert Pitman.

Killer whale population size and stock structure is well documented for the waters of southeastern Alaska and Prince William Sound, but relatively little abundance and genetic data exist for killer whales in Alaskan waters west of Kodiak Island. In 2001, the National Marine Mammal Laboratory’s Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program (CAEP) initiated a 3-year study with an aim of providing comprehensive baseline information on killer whales in the waters of the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands. Specific research objectives included

  • Estimating killer whale abundance in coastal waters between the Kenai Fjords region of southcentral Alaska to the central Aleutian Islands using line-transect and mark-recapture techniques,
  • Examining distribution and movement patterns of killer whale groups, and
  • Determining the ecotype of killer whale groups using this area.

The CAEP article reports on the methodology used in the surveys and presents preliminary results.

Read the complete article>>>
(PDF; 2 MB)

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