Surface behaviors of Southern Resident Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, along the West Side Scenic Preserve of San Juan Island
Lincoln, Chelsea Knox
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Southern Resident Killer Whales have been studied since their population was harmed by live captures for aquariums and has not recovered since that time. Further understanding of their behavior could assist conservation efforts. Killer whales spend the majority of their time underwater, so surface behaviors are one of the few accessible forms of study. Observations were made from the West Side Scenic Preserve to assess the frequency of surface behaviors between periods when the whales were milling versus traveling. Surface behaviors occurred more frequency during milling, especially pectoral slaps. Only breaching behavior occurred equally while milling and traveling. An opportunistic observation allowed me to assess changes in the frequency of SRKW surface behaviors when they were in the vicinity of transient killer whales. Surface behavior activity increased substantially in the presence of transient killer whales; especially tail slaps and other percussive behaviors. Further study needs to be done to investigate the frequency of surface behaviors for better insight of the SRKW population.