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Report on the 2022 Northern Resident Killer Whale annual census

Regional Peer Review - Pacific Region

May 15, 2023
Virtual Meeting

Chairperson: Thomas Doniol-Valcroze


Northern Resident Killer Whales (NRKW) are currently designated as ‘Threatened’ 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 on-going population recovery or cause future population declines (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2018). A long-term photo-identification study of NRKW has been conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) since 1973. Each year, extensive field effort is undertaken to find as many members of this population as possible and note their reproductive status and health condition. DFO Science Branch has been asked to evaluate the available data and methods, and to provide a summary of the annual abundance estimate of the NRKW population including the number of births and deaths, as well as a breakdown of the population structure (sex and ages within each clan) for 2022. A Science Response on the census will be used to inform the public, fishery managers, Species at Risk Program (SARP) managers and external stakeholders.


The following science response will provide the basis for discussion and evaluation of the specific objectives outlined below.

DFO. Population status update for the Northern Resident Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) in 2022. CSAP Science Response 2022SCI04.

The specific objectives of this process are to:

  1. Provide an annual census of Northern Resident Killer Whales including population size and demographics

  2. Include an overview of the methods used to conduct the census

Expected Publications

Expected Participation



Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.

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