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Population size, survival and reproductive rates of northern Norwegian killer whales (Orcinus orca) in 1986-2003

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle



A long-term photo-identification study of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in northern Norway was initiated in 1986, when their prey the Norwegian spring-spawning herring (Clupea harengus) started to winter in a complex fjord system. The aim of this work was to estimate population size and apparent survival rates in this killer whale population using photo-identification and mark–recapture techniques with data collected during October–December 1986–2003. Total population size was estimated to be highest in 2003: 731 individuals (SE = 139, 95% CI = 505–1059) using a model taking heterogeneity of capture probabilities into account. Apparent survival of adult males and adult females was estimated using the Cormack–Jolly–Seber model as 0.971 (SE = 0.008) and 0.977 (SE = 0.009), respectively. Calving intervals ranged from 3 to 14 years (mean = 5.06, SE = 0.722). These are the first estimates of northern Norwegian killer whale population parameters, allowing their dynamics to be investigated and comparisons to be made with killer whale populations globally.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1277-1291
JournalJournal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
Issue number6
Early online date7 Aug 2013
StatePublished - 2014

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