A decent year for some threatened whales

A decent year for some threatened whales

One whale story begets another, I suppose. Researching another story this week on humpbacks, I called up Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard at the Vancouver Aquarium. He’s a scientist with a gift for speaking clearly, and he studies marine mammals on our coast. He’s also the co-chair of the Killer Whale Recovery Team organized by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. I asked him about the killer whales he studies — the Northern Resident population, which can be seen in the Johnstone Strait area and further north during the summer. Last year, he had spoken out about that population starving, and described whales swimming for hours before finding fish to eat. (Their preferred food: chinook salmon). This year, what a difference. The central coast runs for chinook were abundant, he told me. So the whales seemed to have enough to eat, and it could be seen in how they act. “That basically means the whales don’t have to be making a living every minute of the day they have time to socialize,” said Barrett-Lennard in an interview on the Aquarium’s research boat, Skana. “When whales are ‘happy,’ we see a lot of social behaviour, they’re a lot like us in that respect,” he said. “We see larger groups, lots of playing, lots of pushing and shoving and jumping and rolling over on their backs.” Take a look at my CBC TV story (vid link) to see killer whales, and learn what other threats they...