Food Scarcity responsible for declining Population of Puget Sound Killer Whales

Researchers have revealed that the killer whales in Puget Sound are facing decline mainly because of lack of food. Two new deaths have been recorded this year. Researchers have noticed that there have been no new calves since 2012 to increase the number of the killer whales.

Ken Balcomb of Centre for Whale Research said the whales are separating from their pods and dividing themselves into two small groups. It is surprising because they are known to socialize and feed together.

Balcomb said different species of salmon and even other fish are eaten by the whales, but they like the Chinook the most. But the numbers of Chinook have been rapidly declining.

A drop of 78% has been recorded in the number of whales in three pods named J, K and L. A census by the Centre for Whale Research has informed the decline in the level is the highest since 1985.

All three pods of orcas are known to feed and socialize in large groups, however the pods have started to divide themselves into small groups during the past few years. They sometimes stay together, but often apart.

“What we’re seeing with this weird association pattern is two or three members of one pod with two or three from another pod. It’s a fragmentation of the formal social structure, and you can see that fragmentation going further”, said Balcomb.

They have been noticed staying miles and miles apart and not interacting with each other most of the times. Balcomb said that they are now finding it extremely difficult to name the pods. According to him, they are no longer associating in those patterns.

Balcomb said the major reason behind the population decline of the whales is the lack of food. The whales like to eat chinook, but their population is also declining in most areas, and state and federal salmon managers are not being able to reverse the declining trend of the prey.