Body Condition of Endangered Killer Whales Reflects Salmon Numbers and Odds of Survival

August 18, 2021

The body condition of endangered Southern Resident killer whales reflects changes in Chinook salmon numbers in the Fraser River and the Salish Sea. This is according to new research using aerial photogrammetry from drones to track changes in their body condition over time.

The study, titled “Survival of the Fattest: Linking body condition to prey availability and survivorship of killer whales,” also found that poor body condition makes the whales more likely to die.

The new findings published today in Ecosphere highlight the value of monitoring these endangered whales through aerial photogrammetry. This method can detect individual whales declining in condition, which can provide an early warning system that they may die. 

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