Photographic Match of a Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Between Peruvian and Mexican Waters

Abstract: Killer whales are widely distributed along the Pacific coast of Mexico, but they are only occasionally seen in some areas of the southeast Pacific. Although they are found on both coasts of the Baja California Peninsula, killer whale distribution and movements have mostly been studied in the Gulf of California. Records of this species are sporadic off Peru, and sightings have been mainly anecdotal. On 27 March 2001, a pod of six killer whales was observed during a pelagic survey at 12° 52′ S, 77° 53′ W, ca. 148 km off Pucusana, Peru. Within the killer whale pod, a readily identifiable adult male was present. Photographs of this male were checked for matches with the Mexican killer whale catalog. During this process, a match was found with an animal previously photographed two times in the Mexican Pacific, on 4 April 1988 in Magdalena Bay at 24° 18′ N, 112° 01′ W, and on 5 July 1994 in La Paz Bay at 24°36′ N, 110°26′ W. The minimum distance between the Mexican and Peruvian match reached a total of 5,535 km. The inter-hemispheric match reported in this paper extends the already known maximum distance that killer whales are able to travel, and also raises further questions in relation to the population structure of the species due to its high capacity of movement throughout the oceans and, in consequence, the potential interaction between geographically distant populations.


Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.31.4.2005.438

Page Numbers: 438 – 441

$12.00Add to cart