Subject: Killer Whales off Iceland

Patrick Miller (
Thu, 23 Jan 1997 21:11:12 -0500

>Dear Mr. Miller:
>Mike Williamson suggested I contact you regarding Orca whales in
>Iceland.  I am researching them as part of my involvement with the Jason
>Project at the Sacred Heart School in Kingston, MA.  I am 10 years old
>and live in Halifax, MA.
>Can you suggest the best primary resource material for me to research
>and addtional ways that I might become actively involved in the WhaleNet
>Do you ever get a chance to vist schools like ours to talk about your
>work and if so, would you be willing to come to mine as part of my
>Thank you for your interest and help.
>D.J. Mauch


Dear Donald - 

   There has been a fair amount of research on killer whales off Iceland,
mostly by Johann Sigurjonsson and his colleauges.  As you may know, 
killer whales can be recognized by the shape of the dorsal fins, markings
on their bodies, and any scars.  Scientists take pictures of whales 
over many years and then inspect the pictures to see if they can 
recognize any individual killer whales from year to year.  This method
allows scientists to identify the ranges of animals and their social

   Sigurjonsson and his colleauges reported in 1988 that they had 
photo-identified 143 killer whales off Iceland.  This is likely to
only be a small percentage of the total population as surveys conducted
in 1987 suggested a population of at least 4,000 killer whales.  

   The best reference I can suggest for you for killer whales off 
Iceland is a technical journal and not a regular book.  Because
it is a technical journal it might not be found in the public library;
but a university library might have it. Your school librarian should
be able to find out if there is a copy of it in Kingston. It has
three interesting papers on killer whales off Iceland.  It may be a
bit complicated for a 10 year old, but if you read it carefully, you
can learn a lot about killer whales off Iceland. The full information
for the book is:

Sigurjonsson, J., and Leatherwood, S. (eds). 1988. North Atlantic
Killer Whales. Rit Fiskideildar Vol. XI.

   To become more involved in Whalenet, you should contact Mike 
Williamson.  I can probably visit your class in Kingston, MA because 
it is close to Woods Hole, and I could help you find the Rit 
Fiskideildar journal as well.  Have your teacher send me an e-mail
message and we'll see if we can arrange a good time to visit. 

				yours in whale research,