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Recovery Strategy for the Transient Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) in Canada


Appendix A.  Glossary of Terms

The process by which (toxic) substances from prey and the environment increase in concentration over time in living organisms

When a decline in population numbers leads to reduced survival or reduced reproduction

Endocrine disruptor
A substance that interferes with the normal processes of natural hormones in the body (which are responsible for the maintenance of reproduction, development and behaviour)

An adverse effect on an organism’s immune system due to exposure from a chemical substance

A reduction in the activation or efficacy of the immune system

A type of white blood cell involved in immune system functioning

Commonly thought


Closely related populations or ecotypes that overlap in their range but do not interbreed

Appendix B.  Anthropogenic Threat Classification Table Definitions

Note that these are taken from the Draft Species at Risk Act Implementation Guidance,   Guidelines on Identifying and Mitigating Threats to Species at Risk, September 27, 2006 produced by Environment Canada.

Stressor Categories

  • Broad definition indicating the type of threat.
  • Habitat Loss or Degradation, Exotic or Invasive Species, Changes in Ecological Dynamics or Natural Processes, Pollution, Accidental Mortality, Consumptive Use, Disturbance or Persecution, Climate and Natural Disasters, Natural Processes or Activities

Threat Definitions

General Stressor
Typically the general activity causing the specific threat.  To be determined by status report author or recovery team/planner.

Specific Stress
The specific factor or stimulus causing stress to the population.

Indicated by an impairment of a demographic, physiological or behavioural attribute of a population in response to an identified or unidentified threat that results in a reduction of its viability.

Indicate whether the threat is widespread, localized or unknown across the species range.

Indicate whether the threat is historic, current, imminent, anticipated or unknown.

Indicate whether the threat is a one-time occurrence, seasonal, continuous, recurrent, or unknown.

Causal Certainty
Indicate whether the best level of evidence suggests demonstrated, expected, plausible, or unknown linkage between stressor and effect on population viability.

Indicate whether the severity of the threat to the population is high, moderate, low or unknown.

Appendix C. Pollutants That May Pose a Risk to Transient Killer Whales.

pesticide used in some countries, banned in North America, persists in terrestrial runoff 30 years post ban, enters atmosphere from areas where still in useyesyesreproductive impairment, immunosuppression, adrenal and thyroid effects
Polychlorinated Biphenyl s
electrical transformer and capacitor fluid, limited use in North America but enters environment from runoff, spills and incinerationyesyesreproductive impairment, skeletal abnormalities, immunotoxicity and endocrine disruption
Dioxins and Furansby-product of chlorine bleaching, wood product processing and incomplete combustion. Mills less of a source now. Current sources include burning of salt-laden wood, municipal incinerators, and residential wood and wood waste combustion, in runoff from sewage sludge, wood treatmentyesyesthymus and liver damage, birth defects, reproductive impairment, endocrine disruption, immunotoxicity and cancer
Persistent Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
by-product of fuel combustion, aluminium smelting, wood treatment, oil spills, metallurgical and coking plants, pulp and paper millsyesnocarcinogenic
Flame retardants, esp. PBBs and PBDEs
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers
flame retardants; in electrical components and backings of televisions and computers, in textiles and vehicle seats, ubiquitous in environment.  2/3 product PBDEs banned in Europe. Same two products withdrawn from North American marketplace in 2005, but one (deca) product still used globally.yesyesendocrine disruption, impairs liver and thyroid
Perfluro-octane sulfonates
stain, water and oil repellent (included in Scotchgard until recently), fire fighting foam, fire retardants, insecticides and refrigerants, ubiquitous in environmentyesyes but in blood, liver, kidney and musclepromotes tumour growth
TBT, DBTTributyltinDibutyltinantifoulant pesticide used on vesselsyesYesunknown but recently associated with hearing loss
PCPsPolychlorinated paraffinsflame retardants, plasticizers, paints, sealants and additives in lubricating oilsyesyesendocrine disruption
PCNsPolychlorinated napthalenesship insulation, electrical wires and capacitors, engine oil additive, municipal waste incineration and chlor-alkali plants, contaminant in PCBsyesYesendocrine disruption
Alkyl-phenol ethoxylates
detergents, shampoos, paints, pesticides, plastics, pulp and paper mills, textile industry found in sewage effluent and sedimentsmoderatemoderateendocrine disruption
PCTsPolychlorinated terphenylsfire retardants, plasticizers, lubricants, inks and sealants, enters environment in runoffyesyesendocrine disruption and reproductive impairment

References: Primarily Grant and Ross 2002, but also Lindstrom et al. 1999, Hooper and MacDonald 2000, Kannan et al. 2001, Hall et al. 2003; Van deVijver et al. 2003, Rayne et al. 2004, Song et al. 2005

Appendix D. Fisheries & Oceans Canada Technical Recovery Team Members

  • Marilyn Joyce, Fisheries and Aquaculture Management (Chair)
  • John Ford, Cetacean Research Program
  • Peter Ross, Ocean Science Division
  • Graeme Ellis, Cetacean Research Program
  • Ryan Galbriath,  Oceans & Watershed Planning

Appendix E. Record of Cooperation and Consultation

Transient killer whales are listed as “threatened” on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and as an aquatic species are under federal jurisdiction, and are managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) 200 - 401 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC., V6C 3S4.

As there are few people in Canada with scientific, traditional or local knowledge of transient killer whales, DFO brought together a small internal group of technical experts to develop an initial draft of this recovery strategy. 

A Technical Workshop was hosted in January 2007 to provide a forum for the sharing of knowledge and expertise on transient killer whales between the Recovery Team and an invited group of researchers, environmental non-governmental organizations, and other governmental (federal and provincial) staff from both Canada and the United States.   This workshop was invaluable in assisting the DFO Transient Killer Whale Recovery Team in the drafting of the recovery strategy.  Given that the population of killer whales considered in this recovery strategy frequent both Canadian and United States (US) waters, bilateral government and non-government input and collaboration was sought. 

On the advice of the Species at Risk First Nations Coordinator, a letter was sent to all coastal First Nations soliciting their participation in the development of the recovery strategy.  Bands or groups who responded with a specific interest in this species were contacted directly. 

Consultations were web, mail and email based and included mail-outs to all coastal First Nations. An initial draft (March 2007) of the recovery strategy and a discussion guide and feedback form were made available. In addition, a message announcing the development of the recovery strategy, was sent to a marine mammal list serve (MARMAM) with a broad local and international distribution to marine mammal researchers and interests, and to a distribution list of whale-related contacts provided to DFO in recent years from environmental groups, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and the eco-tourism sector.  An announcement was put in the DFO internal staff publication “In the Loop”. 

Comments on the recovery strategy were received from three independent sources and from three government agencies: Parks Canada, the Department of National Defence and the Province of BC.  Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada and Transport Canada had no comments on the strategy. Seven First Nations responded to consultation letters: two requested a copy of the recovery strategy: two requested a meeting to discuss the recovery strategy and two expressed an interest engagement at a later date, one letter of support was received.  

Feedback from public consultations, government agencies and scientific experts has been considered in the production of the final recovery strategy. Peer review of the document was not considered necessary as applicable experts were in attendance at the Technical Workshop and were provided an opportunity to provide input through public consultation.

DFO Recovery Team:

  • Marilyn Joyce, Fisheries & Oceans Canada
  • John Ford, Fisheries & Oceans Canada
  • Graeme Ellis, Fisheries & Oceans Canada
  • Peter Ross, Fisheries & Oceans Canada
  • Peter Olesiuk, Fisheries & Oceans Canada
  • Kim West, Fisheries & Oceans Canada
  • Tatiana Lee, Fisheries & Oceans Canada
  • Ryan Galbraith, Fisheries & Oceans Canada

Technical Workshop Participants:

  • John Durban, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
  • Steven Raverty, Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Animal Health Center
  • Kathy Heise, University of British Columbia
  • Lance Barrett-Lennard, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre
  • Volker Deecke, University of British Columbia,
  • Janet Straley, University of Alaska
  • Dave Ellifrit, Centre for Whale Research
  • Andrew Trites, University of British Columbia
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