Recovery Strategies

Recovery Strategy for the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in Canada

Two distinct populations of killer whales (Orcinus orca), known as the northern and southern residents, occupy the waters off the west coast of British Columbia. In 2001, COSEWIC designated southern resident killer whales as ‘endangered’, and northern resident killer whales as ‘threatened’. Both populations are listed in Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). These two populations are acoustically, genetically and culturally distinct.

Resident killer whale populations in British Columbia are presently considered to be at risk because of their small population size, low reproductive rate, and the existence of a variety of anthropogenic threats that have the potential to prevent recovery or to cause further declines. Principal among these anthropogenic threats are environmental contamination, reductions in the availability or quality of prey, and both physical and acoustic disturbance. Even under the most optimistic scenario (human activities do not increase mortality or decrease reproduction), the species’ low intrinsic growth rate means that the time frame for recovery will be more than one generation (25 years).

The amendment of the Recovery Strategy for the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in Canada was made to incorporate changes made to Section 3 pertaining to the critical habitat.

Consultation period: 2007-06-21 to 2007-08-20

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Contact Person(s)

Director
SARA Directorate
Department of Fisheries and Oceans
200 Kent St.
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0E6
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