WWU research associate and NOAA Fisheries affiliate Jennifer Tennessen is studying the hunting behaviors of endangered orcas of the Salish Sea.
Tennessen and her colleagues at NOAA Fisheries and Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans use suction cups to stick sensors to the sides of whales such as this 21-year-old male known as L78, leaping from the water off the west side of San Juan Island. The sensor is on L78’s lower left flank.
“Because a scarcity of salmon prey is one of the primary threats to population recovery, identifying how hunting occurs and the factors that may interfere with it are critical to determining how to protect and recover the population,” Tennessen told Penn State University, where she received her doctorate.
The ultimate goal, Tennessen says, is to provide scientific information that managers can use to help recover the whales.
Photo by Brad Hanson U.S. NMFS #781-1824, 16163 Canada DFO SARA/MML #2010-01/SARA-106(B)