southern resident killer whale proceedings report, april 3-5,2006

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  • SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALE SYMPOSIUM PROCEEDINGS

    HOSTED BY:

    NORTHWEST FISHERIES SCIENCE CENTER WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES AND OCEANS CANADA

    SUMMARY REPORT

    APRIL 3 5, 2006 NORTHWEST FISHERIES SCIENCE CENTER

    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

    SRKW Symposium Page 1 of 34

  • TABLE OF CONTENTS

    I. SYMPOSIUM OVERVIEW.....................................................................................................................1 II. SESSION SUMMARIES .........................................................................................................................3

    A. GENETICS .......................................................................................................................................3 B. POPULATION DYNAMICS...............................................................................................................6 C. CONTAMINANTS ............................................................................................................................8 D. PREY ..............................................................................................................................................10 E. ENERGETICS.................................................................................................................................12 F. DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT....................................................................................................13 G. VESSEL TRAFFIC ..........................................................................................................................15 H. NOISE ............................................................................................................................................16

    III. ROUNDTABLE PANEL SUMMARY ..................................................................................................19 Appendices

    A Symposium Agenda B Extended Presentation Abstracts C List of Participants

    i

  • I. SYMPOSIUM OVERVIEW

    In response to the significant population decline of the Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) over the past decade, this population was listed as endangered under Canadas Species at Risk Act in 2001, by Washington State in 2004, and under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2006. In a continued effort to better understand the risk factors contributing to the SRKWs decline, and to coordinate efficient and effective bilateral management and conservation of the species, the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) partnered with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to host an international Southern Resident Killer Whale Symposium on April 3-5, 2006 in Seattle, Washington. The partners engaged the neutral facilitation services of RESOLVE, a non-profit organization based in Portland, Oregon, to assist with planning and facilitating the symposium. The symposium provided an opportunity for representatives from a variety of agencies, universities, and organizations to collaboratively address the following symposium objectives:

    1. Present new research results; 2. Examine how this information moves us forward in informing conservation actions; and 3. Discuss what additional research, if any, is needed.

    Approximately 200 participants worked to achieve these objectives throughout the course of the three-day symposium. Each participant was provided with an agenda and a bound collection of research abstracts pertaining to the presentations. Opening remarks were provided by Kurt Beckett, Chief of Staff for Senator Maria Cantwell, and Drs. Linda Jones and Usha Varanasi of NWFSC. Garth Griffin, NOAA Fisheries NW Regional Office, Rocky Beach, WDFW, and Marilyn Joyce, DFO, each outlined their respective agencies recovery plans and research and management needs. An electronic version of this report, the symposium agenda and abstracts and the participant list will be made available at: www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/cbd/marine_mammal/marinemammal.cfm. Dr. Michael Ford of NWFSC provided an overview of high priority research questions developed during three previous SRKW workshops held in May 2003 and January 2004 co-sponsored by the three agencies. These high priority questions were used by the NWFSC to help direct their own research efforts and their funding of research conducted by other organizations. Since 2003, Congress has provided approximately $4M to NOAA Fisheries Service to conduct and fund research on SRKW. The symposium was held in part to highlight some of the research that has been conducted using these funds. Presentations of research wholly or partially funded by NOAA Fisheries are noted with an asterisk (*) in the report. The symposium offered eight individual sessions focused on answering these high priority research questions for each of the following topics:

    Genetics Population dynamics Contaminants Prey Energetics Distribution and habitat

    SRKW Symposium Report Page 1 of 30

    http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/cbd/marine_mammal/marinemammal.cfm

  • Vessel traffic Noise

    Each session began with a series of presentations of recent research results by eminent scientists in related field(s), followed by an open discussion between presenters and the audience. The conversations were focused on three overarching questions:

    1. What are the significant results in terms of answering the high priority research question(s) or in better understanding the population and its conservation?

    2. How can these results be used to inform the conservation of the Southern Resident killer whales?

    3. Are there critical information gaps that still need to be addressed for conservation? If so, what are they? What method(s) is most likely to successfully address the gap taking into account biases and cost and logistical limitations?

    The majority of the symposiums third and final day was dedicated to a roundtable panel of experts reflections on information presented throughout the symposium from within the context of their particular area of expertise, and focused on addressing a set of discussion questions. Panel members were provided the opportunity to respond to each others comments before the deliberations opened up to all symposium participants. A report summarizing the symposium discussions is detailed below. The report is organized session-by-session and follows the temporal sequence of topics reflected in the symposium agenda. The purpose of the report is to summarize the content of the symposium. As such, it does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of any of the sponsoring agencies. In describing the discussion that occurred at the symposium we provide where possible the names of the persons contributing to the discussion. Although we have attempted to accurately summarize the discussions that occurred, we doubt that every speakers contributions were captured perfectly. Therefore, this report does not necessarily reflect any particular persons views, even if they are mentioned by name.

    SRKW Symposium Report Page 2 of 32

  • II. SESSION SUMMARIES

    A. GENETICS Presentations * Michael Ford, NWFSC Killer whale taxonomy and species status under the Endangered

    Species Act * Phil Morin, Southwest Fisheries Science Center Genetic analysis of killer whale (Orcinus orca)

    historical bone and tooth samples to identify western U.S. ecotypes * Phil Morin, Southwest Fisheries Science Center On the use of AFLP markers for taxonomic

    study of killer whales (presented for R. LeDuc, N. Hedrick, and R. Pitman ) * Rus Hoelzel, University of Durham Evolution of population genetic structure of killer

    whales (Orcinus orca) in the North Pacific High Priority Research Questions

    Are the North Pacific resident killer whales a distinct species or subspecies? What are the patterns of mating within the Southern Residents, and between the Southern Residents and

    other eastern North Pacific killer whale populations? Are intrinsic demographic problems, such as a lack of appropriate mates or inbreeding depression, limiting the Southern Residents recovery?

    What was the historical size of the Southern Resident killer whale population? Is there genetic evidence that the Southern Residents have experienced a severe genetic bottleneck?

    Genetics Discussion 1. What are the significant results in terms of answering the high priority research

    question(s) or in better understanding the population and its conservation? 2. How can these results be used to inform the conservation of the

    Southern Resident killer whales? 3. Are there critical information gaps that still need to be addressed for conservation? If so,

    what are they? What method(s) is most likely to successfully address the gap taking into account biases and cost and logistical limitations?

    Session Leader Summary (Leader: Dr. Michael Ford) Dr. Michael Ford initiated the discussions by expressing excitement about the current efforts to develop models to allow more accurate estimates of times of population divergence and rates of gene flow among populations than have been available in the past. He also cautioned participants to keep the following limitations of the models in mind:

    Mitochondrial DNA is maternally inherited, and therefore cannot be used to infer patterns of male-mediated gene flow;

    Microsatellite DNA markers are hard to model given the high rate of genetic mutations; and

    Only individuals presenting the papers are listed; please see the abstracts for a full list of authors. *