[MARMAM] New publication: Evidence of Type A-like killer whale predating on marine mammals in Atacama Desert Coast

Ana M Garcia Cegarra albatracu at gmail.com
Sat Sep 17 09:09:19 PDT 2022

Dear marmam community, I am pleased to announce my recent publication
in Aquatic Mammals.

García-Cegarra, A.M. 2022. Evidence of Type A-like killer whales (*Orcinus
orca*) predating on marine mammals along the Atacama Desert coast,
Chile. *Aquatic
Mammals  * 2, 48(5), 436-448, DOI 10.1578/AM.48.5.2022.436

*Abstract *
Killer whales (*Orcinus orca*) are marine apex predators distributed across
the world’s oceans. In the last 40 years, researchers have increasingly
differentiated killer whales into ecotypes based on genetics, morphology,
behaviour, acoustic repertoire, habitat, and trophic ecology. While killer
whale ecotypes in the Northern Hemisphere are well studied, the recognition
of distinct killer whale forms in the Southern Hemisphere is mainly limited
to Antarctic waters. Although present in less studied regions, such as
along the Atacama Desert coast in the Southeast Pacific Ocean, limited
information is available regarding their biology or trophic ecology.
Herein, multiple lines of evidence are presented for killer whale predation
on marine mammals in northern Chile. Using information from systematic
boat-based surveys, whale-watching tour surveys, and reports from
fishermen/citizen scientists, 19 killer whale sightings are reported along
the coast of northern Chile (from the Arica and Parinacota region in the
north to the Atacama region in the south). Killer whales were
photo-identified as corresponding to the Southern Hemisphere Type A-like
ecotype according to their dorsal fin shape and white eye patch. One killer
whale pod, which included two males, one female, one juvenile, and one
calf, was resighted six times from 2016 to 2021 in northern Chile and was
observed hunting South American sea lions (*Otaria flavescens*), dusky
dolphins (*Lagenorhynchus obscurus*), and long-beaked common dolphins
cf. capensis*). Killer whales were observed taking advantage of large
aggregations of sea lions associated with the offshore purse-seine fishery.
Adult killer whales used the hulls of fishing vessels to prevent sea lions
from escaping. Photo-identification analysis of a fin whale (*Balaenoptera
physalus*) catalogue from Mejillones Peninsula showed that 2.6% of all
identified whales had apparent rake marks from killer whale teeth on their
dorsal fins. These data show that Type A-like killer whales in northern
Chile prey on several species of marine mammals.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you want a pdf copy (
albatracu at gmail.com)

All the best


*Ana M. García-Cegarra, Ph.D.*
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