Episode 9 - Orca Research with Gary Sutton
Joining us as our guest, from Vancouver Island, is our friend Gary Sutton. Gary is a whale researcher with Ocean Wise Research and Bay Cetology. He is also a professional whale and wildlife guide. After recently returning from his field research season off northeast Vancouver Island and the central BC coast, Gary shares information about the focus of their research and tells some great stories about his time up there.
The overarching goal of the research he is working on is to use photogrammetry to take photos and measure cranial fat deposits in Northern Resident killer whales and track changes over time to assess body condition and health. Gary talks about this research and what we can learn about whales using drones to take photos from above.
As we do with all of our guests, we asked Gary to share some memorable encounters from his field season. Gary tells some great stories about seeing bubble-net feeding humpbacks and the first documented sighting of some famous California Bigg's killer whales in the inland waters of BC.
We also discuss the latest sightings, including a new calf with the T37Bs and a rare winter Southern Resident killer whale superpod. We discuss how the Southern Residents are adapting to declines in their preferred prey availability and the changes we are seeing in their distribution and travel patterns.
The episode concludes with an email from a listener in response to our discussions about humpbacks intervening in Bigg's killer whale predations on marine mammals. The email points out that hippos have been well documented to interrupt hunts on other animals as well.
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New calf with T37B. Photo by Jeff Friedman
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