Supervisor: Dr. Andrew Trites
Education: (2020) B.Sc. Major in Applied Animal Biology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
Research Topic: Transient killer whale presence and prey consumption in the inside waters of Vancouver Island
Transient (Biggs) killer whale populations have increased since the 1970s due perhaps to increasing seal and sea lion populations—a primary prey species for the transient population. However, reducing seal and sea lion populations in BC waters by 50% to restore chinook salmon stocks may negatively affect transient killer whales. To determine the possible effects of culling seals and sea lions on the transient population, Taryn will determine transient killer whale abundance and distribution in 2016-2020 in the inside waters of Vancouver Island. This population data will then be paired with a bioenergetics model to determine how many seals and sea lions transient killer whales may be consuming per year. This information will quantify the relative importance of the inside waters to sustain transient killer whales and will assess the impacts of a seal and sea lion reduction on the transient population.