Resident Orca Strandings
Photo credit: CTV News
Double Stuff (J 34)
Blunt force trauma
An approximately 18 year old male killer whale, identified as J34 was found dead near Sechelt, B.C. on December 20th, 2016.
J34 was a Southern Resident killer whale, a population listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act in Canada.
A necropsy was performed to determine the cause of the animal’s death.
Initial examination indicates that the animal appears to have blunt trauma to the dorsal side, and a hematoma indicating that J34 was alive at the time of injury.
A CAT scan will be conducted on the skull to determine if there are any fractures. Additional information from tissue and blood analysis can take 2-8 weeks.
DFO is investigating what may have caused the blunt trauma to the animal. Anyone with information please call our Observe Record Report line at 1-800-465-4336.
Photo credit: Dave Ellifrit, CWR
1996 - 2016
Killed by a fungus from a tag
A 20 year old male killer whale, identified as L95 was found dead near Esperanza Inlet, B.C. on March 30th, 2016. L95 was a Southern Resident killer whale, a population listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act in Canada.
The animal had been tagged by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) using a satellite-linked limpet-style tag approximately 5 weeks prior to death.
The necropsy report for L95 is now complete, and has been reviewed by an independent panel of scientists that gather to review unusual whale deaths. They support Dr. Raverty’s conclusions that a fungal infection entered the animals bloodstream at the tagging site, and that this fungal infection contributed to the animals death.
Place holder photo
(Unknown Southern Resident Orca)
We will update this when more information is available. Requested from DFO Canada on
1 June 2018
"DFO can also confirm that the dead killer whale calf found near Sooke, BC on March 23rd, 2016 has been ID’d by the Vancouver Aquarium genetics team as a southern resident.
The female calf was less than 2 weeks of age and had not yet been categorized.
Further analysis will be done to determine which pod the calf belonged to. A necropsy was performed on March 25th, 2016.
The initial/gross necropsy results did not indicate a cause of death, but given the young age of the animal, a birthing complication is suspected."
Rhapsody (J 32)and term fetus
1996 - 2014
In utero fetal loss
An approximately 19 year old pregnant female killer whale, identified as J32, was found deceased near Comox, B.C. on December 3rd, 2014.
J-32 was a Southern Resident killer whale, a population listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act in Canada. A necropsy was performed on Saturday December 6th, 2014, to determine the cause of the animal’s death.
Necropsy results confirm that J32 was pregnant with a near full-term female calf.
The examination indicates that the cause of death was a result of in utero fetal loss with secondary bacterial involvement (endometritis), and eventually maternal septicemia; meaning the fetus caused an infection that became systemic, and ultimately fatal to J32.
As a young calf with her mother
Her skeleton hangs in the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, Wa
A life-sized model of her hangs nearby
The Whale Museum
Friday Harbor, Wa.
2009 - 2012
Blunt force trauma
On 11 February 2012, a 3.75-m juvenile female Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW, Orcinus orca), identified as L-112, stranded just north of the town of Long Beach, Washington.
The following day the carcass was taken to a secure location at Cape Disappointment State Park for a full necropsy by biologists and volunteers from the Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network (Network).
This report reviews the data from the necropsy, histopathology, and computed tomography (CT) examinations, as well as results from ancillary diagnostic tests. Available information on environmental data and human activities was compiled and evaluated to assess possible contributions to the loss of the animal.
Gross examination revealed that the whale was moderately decomposed but in good nutritional condition. Extensive subcutaneous bruising was present on the back of the head and neck, which extended deep into the adjoining musculature and tracked along the hypodermis to the throat region. On the right side, bruising extended to the anterior insertion of the pectoral fin. Initial estimates of time of death were from 4–10 days prior to the stranding.
A detailed dissection and CT scan of the head confirmed the gross observations of hemorrhage and revealed extensive gas and fluid accumulation. No skull fractures were noted. No fractures or dislocations of the bones of the middle and inner ear were seen. A CT scan of the cervical vertebrae was also performed. There was incomplete fusion of the dorsal aspect of the C7 vertebral body that was attributed to a congenital anomaly and was not considered clinically significant. No broken bones were found on preparation of the skeleton. There was, however, a long linear crack on upper right jaw tooth #13, but based on its gross appearance and orientation, it was not considered a consequence of terminal trauma.
Based on findings from the gross examination of the carcass and the absence of conclusive histopathology or ancillary test results, the investigative team identified blunt force trauma as the primary consideration for the acute death of the animal. However, the nature of the blunt trauma could not be determined.
L-112 was hit, struck, or rammed in the head or neck, but the animate or inanimate source of the blow could not be determined based on postmortem examination. NOAA received reports of sonar activities from hydrophone operators in Puget Sound preceding the stranding. Reporting parties expressed concerns that military activities may have been involved in the stranding.
NOAA requested information on sonar, underwater explosive activities, and boat strikes in the Northwest from the Royal Canadian Navy, the United States Navy, the United States Army, and the United States Coast Guard. NOAA also requested information on human activities from additional organizations that operate or authorize activities off the coast.
The Network investigators examined the circumstances of the stranding (single individual), environmental evidence, and information about human activities, and ruled out several possible sources of the traumatic injury, including the following: ix
1. Sonar and small underwater explosive activity was confirmed by the Royal Canadian Navy on 4, 5, and 6 February 2012 in Canadian waters off Vancouver Island and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but no marine mammals were observed during the training activities. The naval activities occurred approximately 340 kilometers to the north (downwind) of the stranding location, making blast injury as a result of explosive detonations from the exercise an unlikely contributor to the stranding.
2. The U.S. Navy reported that no domestic naval training activities involving sonar or explosives were conducted between 1 and 11 February 2012 in the Northwest Training Range Complex (which includes Washington, Oregon, and northern California).
3. The U.S. Army reported that no army-related training or military activities were carried out on the coast in early February.
4. Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) hydrophone recorders off Newport, Oregon, and Westport and Cape Flattery, Washington, did not detect sounds from midfrequency sonar or explosions in early February.
5. The U.S. Coast Guard reported that no vessel-related whale strikes were reported in early February from Oregon through Grays Harbor, Washington, and they were not aware of any explosives being used in the area. No ship strikes of any whales in Oregon or Washington waters were reported to NOAA.
6. The Fishing Vessels Operators Association reported that their member fishing vessels typically do not begin fishing off the lower coast (Washington, Oregon, and California) until March or April and were unlikely to be present during January to February 2012. No reports involving killer whales were submitted to NOAA’s Marine Mammal Authorization Program during this time period.
7. The Army Corps of Engineers reported that there were no in-water construction projects involving pile driving or explosive activities, nor were there any scientific buoy installations or dredging projects being conducted along the Oregon and Washington coasts in this time period. In conclusion, blunt trauma to the head and neck is the prime consideration for the cause of mortality. Despite extensive diagnostic evaluation, the cause of the head and neck injuries could not be determined.
September 25th, 1999
Nootka was found floating near Bentinck island at the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, just adjacent to Race Rocks in British Columbia, Canada.
She left behind two calves; nine year old Nyassa (L 84) who survives to this day, and the recent calf, Tweak (L 97). Tweak was still dependent upon his mother for milk and died a few weeks later despite the efforts of his brother and an uncle to feed him fish.
Known Resident orcas being researched
Sources include DFO Canada, The Center for Whale Research, Orca Network,NMFS US
1977 August 14 Strongtide Island, Victoria Adult M 1 SRc (L08) CRP PBSf
1986 August 17 Port Renfrew Adult F 1 SRc (L66) Jarman et al. 1996, CRP PBSf
1986 October 7 Tsawwassen Subadult M 1 SRe Olesiuk et al. 1990, CRP PBSf
1989 April 11 Radar Beach Subadult M 1 SRc (L14) Langelier et al. 1989, Jarman et al. 1996, CRP PBSf
1993 June 2 NE end of Manley Island Adult M 1 SRe Baird et al. 1994, CRP PBSf
1995 December 12 Texada Island Adult F 1 SRc (J04) Willis et al. 1996, CRP PBSf
1995 July 4 Hippa Island,Haida Gwaii Subadult F 1 SRe Willis et al.
1996, CRP PBSf 1996 May 21 Cape Scott Subadult F 1 SRe Willis et al. 1996, CRP PBSf
1998 November – – Subadult M 1 SR c (J–pod) CRP PBS f
1999 September 2 6 W hirl Bay, Sooke Adult F 1 SR c (L51) Ford et al.
2000, CRP PBS f 2000 March 1 8 Boundary Bay Subadult M 1 SR c Everett (J18) Born 1977 to Tahoma (J 10) Ford et al. 2000, CRP PBS f Orca Network
2002 May Rascal (L 60) born 1972, Washington Coast
2006 March 1 0 Conception Point, Nootka Sound Subadult M 1 SR c (L98) CRP PBS, f Gayd os and Raverty 2010 i
1967 February – Yukon Harbor Subadult – 1 SRc (K–pod) Olesiuk et al. 1990,CRP PBSf
1977 September 28 San Juan Island Adult M 1 SRc (L–pod) Calambokidis et al. 1984, National Marine Fisheries Service 2008, CRP PBSf
1983 November 15 Seattle Subadult F 1 SRc Olesiuk et al. 1990,CRP PBSf
1989 January 5 Stuart Island Subadult M 1 SRc (J–pod) Jarman et al. 1996, NOAA MMND,k CRP PBSf
1999 February 8 Whidbey Island Subadult M 1 SRc (J–pod) National Marine Fisheries Service 2008, CRP PBSf
2008 July 26 Henry Island Subadult – 1 SRc Gaydos and Raverty 2010,i NOAA MMND,6 CRP PBSf
1973 August 7 Johnstone Strait Subadult M 1 NRc (B04) CRP PBSf
1990 December 1 Malcolm Island Adult F 1 NRc (A09) Baird et al. 1991, CRP PBSf
1994 June 10 Burke Channel Subadult M 1 NRc (A58?) Guenther et al. 1995, CRP PBSf
1996 December 1 7 Saltery Bay Subadult F 1 NR c (A57) Willis et al. 1996, CRP PBS f
2006 July 1 8 Prince Rupert Subadult F 1 NR c (C21) CRP PBS, f Gayd os and Raverty 2010 i
1976 May 9 Long Beach Subadult M 1 R e Olesiuk et al. 1990, CRP PBSf