[MARMAM] First confirmed Photo ID match for killer whales sighted in Sri Lanka and Abu Dhabi

Georgina L Gemmell georgina.wildoceans at gmail.com
Fri Oct 30 13:36:52 PDT 2015

Dear Marmamers,

We (Orca Project Sri Lanka) are pleased to announce our finding of the
first known Photo ID match for two killer whales sighted in both Sri Lanka
and Abu Dhabi (approx. distance 3,300 km).

The two individuals, thought to be a male and female, are known to Orca
Project Sri Lanka as members of Pod 6, first sighted off Mirissa (Southern
coast) on 31/08/2015 by whale watch operator Raja and the Whales.

These individuals match those in an image from Abu Dhabi (taken in June
2008) that appeared online via Gulf News, and can be viewed at this link

The positive match was confirmed by NOAA scientists/ killer whale experts-
Robert Pitman, John Durban and David Ellifrit.

This exciting finding bodes well for the potential success of collaborative
Citizen Science when researching far-travelling pelagic populations, such
as those that inhabit the Northern Indian Ocean. Due to their offshore
nature and infrequent sightings, very little is known about their ecology,
movements, population structure and more.

The Northern Indian Ocean Killer Whale Alliance was founded as part of a
collaborative project between Orca Project Sri Lanka and Wildlife
Conservation Society biologist Tim Collins, with the hopes of shedding some
light on the lives of these mysterious whales. In addition to coordinating
a Photo ID catalogue for the region, the alliance was set up with the
objective of increasing the number of “eyes and ears” available in the area
for killer whale sightings.

Already the NIO Killer Whale catalogue holds over 50 individuals from all
over the Northern Indian Ocean, with images contributed by members of the
alliance which include Whale Watchers, NGOs, researchers, fisherman,
yachties, marine enthusiasts and more. The catalogue will be made available
to the public via an official website and downloadable PDF to be released

*Georgina Gemmell*
Lead Administrator, Orca Project Sri Lanka
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