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What do killer whales eat in the Arctic?
Date:1/29/2012

how killer whales co-operated to kill the much larger bowhead. During the hunt some whales were seen holding the bowhead's flippers or tail, others covering its blowhole, and others biting or ramming to cause internal damage. Occasionally dead bowheads, with bite marks and internal injuries but with very little eaten, are found by locals.

'Aarlirijuk', the fear of killer whales, influenced prey behaviour with smaller mammals seeking refuge in shallow waters or on shore and larger prey running away, diving deep, or attempting to hide among the ice. Even narwhal, which are capable of stabbing a killer whale with their tusks (although this is likely to result in the deaths of both animals), will run to shallow waters and wait until the whales give up.

Killer whales are seasonal visitors to the area and have recently started colonising Hudson Bay (possibly due to loss of summer sea ice with global warming). Local communities are reliant on the very species that the orcas like to eat. Dr Steven Ferguson from the University of Manitoba who led this research commented, "Utilising local knowledge through TEK will help scientists understand the effects of global warming and loss of sea ice on Arctic species and improve collaborative conservation efforts in conjunction with local communities."

Aquatic Biosystems, (previously Saline Systems), which re-launches today, publishes basic and applied research on aquatic organisms and environments, bridging across freshwater and saline systems from gene systems to ecosystems.


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Contact: Dr. Hilary Glover
hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com
44-203-192-2370
BioMed Central
Source:Eurekalert  

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