fast facts | behavior | diet | acoustics | identification | biopsy sampling and DNA analysis | anatomy

deecke_mugshotThe photographic identification of individual killer whales Photographic identification of individual killer whales is the basis of all research on these uniquely marked animals. Information gained from long term photographic records is used to document births, deaths, associations with other individuals, age at first calving and behavioral parameters.

This information is crucial to fully understanding killer whale population dynamics. This technique to identify wild cetaceans using natural markings was pioneered by the late Michael Bigg at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo and systematic records of killer whales in British Columbia waters date back to 1972.

mugshot4_deeckeUsing a camera equipped with a 300mm auto-focus lens, researchers take black and white photographs of the left side of each whale showing details of the dorsal fin and saddle patch. All photographic negatives are examined under a stereomicroscope by Graeme Ellis at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo for final analysis.

Identifiable whales are recorded, catalogued and compared to existing catalogs of whales from the west coast of North America.





next page killer whale diet