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Science Response 2023/031

Population status update for the Northern Resident Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) in 2022


Northern Resident Killer Whales (NRKW) are currently designated as ‘Threatened’ in Canada under the Species at Risk Act, due to their small population size, low reproductive rate, and the existence of several anthropogenic threats that are likely to impede their on-going population recovery or cause future population declines (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2018). Population censusing by photo-identification is a key research activity outlined in the Species at Risk Act Action Plan for Resident Killer Whales (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2017) and has been conducted on the NRKW population each year since 1973, making it one of the longest-running, continuous time series of data for a cetacean population.

This report presents updated population information for NRKW in 2022 and supplements existing publications, including the NRKW photo-identification catalogue (Towers et al. 2020) and the NRKW photo-identification mobile app (Alert Bay Cetological Society 2022). Please cite this document according to the citation provided at the end of this report. The demographic data presented here are not intended to be analyzed for further studies without permission of DFO’s Cetacean Research Program. Please contact the corresponding author (Thomas Doniol-Valcroze) for data use requests relating to this report.

This Science Response Report results from the Regional Peer Review of May 15, 2023 on the Report on the 2022 Northern Resident Killer Whale annual census.

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