VNIRO - The orcas trio broke up
24 July 2019

The orcas trio broke up

According to data from satellite tags, three killer whales, released on July 16, went separate way, having met wild relatives in the sea.

In the evening of July 16 fishermen working in the Perovsky Bay 8 km to the West from the place of release, reported to the VNIRO staff that the released orcas appeared at the coast again. Having arrived at the place, the scientists saw one individual near the fixed gill net at a distance of about 500 m from the shore. Taking into account the signs and the satellite tag on the fin, they could conclude that it was a small female released along with the older male and female.

According to the fishermen, about an hour before it three killer whales with visible tags on the fins came to the shore. Then two adult wild orcas appeared in the sea. They approached the group, after which the older male and female went with them to the sea, and the young female remained in place. Soon the animals returned, but after circling together for about 15 minutes, the pair of older individuals went to sea again.

Scientists organized round-the-clock observation near the specified place and observed the situation over the following days, since the acoustic contact between animals in the wild can be maintained over long distances. 

However, judging by the further displacement of satellite tags, the orcas couple moved away from the place of release at a distance of about 200 km and is now in the Nikolaya Bay. The younger female still swims in the Sakhalin Gulf near the place of release. Scientists have organized coastal surveillance. According to reports of fishermen, the whale approached the stationary net to eat fish.

Olga Shpak, researcher from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences, comments:

“It is upsetting that the released killer whales have separated, because “work in a pod” determines the success of the hunt. A small female which was observed near the shore alone is still not far from the place of release. An adult female stayed in the Bay behind Litke Cape, and then moved to the Nikolaya Bay. In these places killer whales are very common. Presumably, the male is also there. It is important to note that a few hours after the release wild orcas (two adult males), probably hearing the sounds of released individuals, came to them. The presence of wild relatives in the water area gives hope that killer whales from the Srednyaya Bay will be able to join any of the families and quickly restore natural skills, hunting together." 

The VNIRO press service

Tracker (adult female)

 

Tracker (little female)