New research published in the journal PLoS ONE by Katherine Ayres and collaborators shines light on the sources of stress in Southern Resident Killer Whales. Ayres used fecal matter to find markers of nutritional and psychological stress in the whales. Her results support the hypothesis that inadequate prey (Chinook salmon) is a larger cause of stress for the whales than is vessel traffic.
Note that the paper does not say there are no impacts from boats, only that the impacts from lack of food overshadow those impacts.
Best quote (from the Seattle Times piece): ""I like to call it my buffet-in-a-bar example," said Katherine Ayres, lead author of a paper on the study published in PLoS ONE, released Wednesday. Patrons in a noisy bar won’t mind the racket if all their favorite foods are piled high on the buffet. "But you go there and they are only serving rice and potatoes, and it’s super noisy and crowded, then it’s, ‘I am not getting a good meal and these boats are driving me crazy.’ "
An interesting section of the full paper: "The temporal trend in T3 concentrations within and between years suggest that the sampled SRKWs might be feeding on a nutritious early spring food source acquired prior to their arrival in the Salish Sea. The trend further suggests that the whales become somewhat food limited during the course of the summer. This result is somewhat unexpected, because the more confined waterways of the Salish Sea, combined with large runs of salmon returning through the area would seem to provide easier foraging opportunities for the whales than the outer coast. Nonetheless, the declining trend in T3 levels at least suggests the possibility that the early spring period when the whales are typically in coastal waters might be a more important foraging time than was previously believed."
As always, we encourage you to read the research for yourself. With PLos ONE it’s easy to do, because the journal is free and open to the public. Here’s the link to the full research report:
Photo by Kat Kellner via Flickr.
Love Killer Whales? Why not have a Killer Whale announce your incoming calls?
We created this ringtone from a recording made by The Whale Museum, thanks to the help of researcher Kari Koski.
Download the ringtone for iPhone.
(Right-Click on the link — or Control-Click on a mac.)
Technical Note: Firefox handles the download properly. Safari on the Mac downloads a useless file. We’re way beyond our geek threshold in terms of why this might be happening.
Click here to listen to the ringtone before downloading. (Works in most browsers.) That’s an MP3 you can also download for use as a ringtone on Android.
This ringtone works on iPhones. It MIGHT work on Android and other phones. If you’re an Android user and want to test it for us, let us know if it works. And if you’re an Android guru and can help us create the right kind of file and write the installation instructions, definitely get in touch.
Here’s how to install the ringtone on your iPhone:
- Download the file to your computer.
- Drag it onto your iTunes icon in the dock. iTunes will put it in the "ringtones" area.
- Sync your phone with your computer
- Go to Settings > Sound and choose the ringtone as your default ring, or add it to particular contacts.
- You can also use the ringtone as an alarm chime.
Unfortunately, we’re not able to provide technical support for installing the ringtone. If you get stuck, try a Google search, as several websites have illustrated guides to adding ringtones to your phone.
Don’t miss our harbor seal ringtone.
Photo courtesy S. Buckley.