[MARMAM] New publication on the prey of killer whales in Iceland

Filipa Samarra fipsamarra at gmail.com
Wed Jan 16 01:46:38 PST 2019

Dear all,

we are pleased to share our most recent publication on the prey of 
killer whales in Iceland, available online at 

Prey of killer whales (/Orcinus orca/) in Iceland
Samarra FIP, Bassoi M, Béesau J, Elíasdóttir MÓ, Gunnarsson K, Mrusczok 
M-T, Rasmussen M, Rempel JN, Thorvaldsson B and Víkingsson GA
PLoS ONE 13(12): e0207287


Killer whales have a cosmopolitan distribution and as a species are 
generalists, feeding on a variety of prey. However, local populations 
tend to specialise on specific prey types. In Icelandic waters, killer 
whales are generally associated with herring and, thus, have been 
presumed to be herring specialists. However, recent studies suggest a 
more complex foraging ecology, possibly including a mosaic of 
strategies. With increased observational effort in recent years due to 
research and whale-watching activities, there have been several reports 
of interactions with different prey, including confirmed predation 
events. In this study we aimed to summarise the range of potential prey 
of killer whales observed in Icelandic waters. We report on 12 
previously unpublished accounts and review 15 accounts published in the 
scientific literature or local newspapers, making a total of 27 events 
where killer whales were observed interacting with actual or potential 
prey. Thirteen different species, including birds (n = 1), cephalopods 
(n = 1), fish (n = 5) and marine mammals (n = 6), are reported, although 
herring is by far the species that killer whales are most often observed 
interacting with. This study provides the first summary of actual and 
suspected killer whale prey in Icelandic waters, and contributes towards 
our understanding of this population’s prey preferences. However, 
describing the diet of individuals/groups was not possible and this 
study points to a need for continued monitoring to understand the 
intricacies of killer whale foraging behaviour in this area.

Best regards,


Filipa Samarra
Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (Hafrannsóknastofnun)
Skúlagata 4
121 Reykjavík, Iceland
Tel: +354-5752082

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9909-0565
ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Filipa_Samarra

Follow us on: www.facebook.com/icelandic.orcas
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