Subject: Orca population dynamics

Jennifer D. Philips (
Fri, 30 Oct 1998 11:15:52 -1000

>I am doing a project in a Systems Ecology class at SUNY ESF, Syracuse
>New York, which involves simulating population growth of a species of my
>choice.  I was recently out in Vancouver, BC, Canada and had the
>opportunity to see three transient Orcas.  I thought this would be an
>interesting project... but I am not sure where to get the information I
>need.  To perform the simulation, I need data on birth and death rates,
>age of maturity for both male and female Orcas, breeding success rates,
>male to female population ratio and proportion of females that breed
>during a given year.  I also need an estimate of current population,
>even if it is only for a specific region.  Any suggestions on where to
>get this or who to contact?
>Thanks much!

Mike -

That information is going to take some research to find, but you have a few
resources at your disposal:  first, try either looking at the web sites of,
or contacting directly, the IWC (Internation Whaling Commission), and NMFS
(National Marine Fisheries Service, which governs marine mammal
conservation and protection through the Marine Mammal Protection Act other
others).  Second, your school probably has a library with journal archives
that can be accessed.  Search their database for the variables you're
interested in.  A potential author to look for regarding the Northeat
Pacific killer whale population is M.A. Bigg, and for the Northeast
Atlantic would be I. Christensen.  Reports to the IWC and to NMFS are
probably also archived at your library, or at a nearby library at least.

I can tell you that the population dynamics of the "transient" killer
whales is very little studied.  Most of your information for this project
will have to come from what is known about the resident populations of
killer whales in the northeast Pacific (British Columbia), and in the
northeast Atlantic (Norway, Iceland, etc.).  But there should definitely be
enough data out there for you to find, either published or in report to the

Good luck!

Aloha - Jen Philips

Jennifer D. Philips

Marine Mammal Research Program
HIMB, University of Hawaii at Manoa
PO Box 1106			
Kailua, HI  96734
voice:  (808) 247-5063
fax: (808) 247-5831