The top of Graham Island from Langara Island to Rose Spit, extending across the confluence of Hecate Strait to the mainland coast from Porcher Island to Portland Inlet and Dixon entrance towards the Alaskan islands.
#1) Endangered, threatened or vulnerable species
#2) Feeding concentration
#4) Migration corridor
#5) Species diversity
The area consistently hosts significant concentrations of humpback whales, especially off Langara Island and along the mainland coast near Portland Inlet. In addition it has been shown to be landfall location for humpbacks migrating northwards from breeding grounds in Hawaii.
Killer whales feed in this area annually, especially along the northern shores of Graham Island, and ranging over to the adjacent mainland coast.
Fin whales also feed in this area, with most sightings ranging from Langara Island northeast out into Dixon Entrance and across to Alaskan islands.
This is also part of the spring gray whale migratory corridor, with whales moving up Hecate Strait and swerving westward to reach the outer southeast Alaska coast. (Recently, southbound gray whales satellite tagged in Russia made landfall at Graham Island after crossing the Gulf of Alaska) Also, several pockets of small numbers of feeding gray whales may be found off Rose Spit, and along shores of islands off Prince Rupert in summer.
This area includes Naden Harbor on Graham Island, the base of whaling operations from 1911 to 1941.
|Canada (SARA)||USA (ESA)|
|Northern Resident Killer Whales||Threatened||N/A|
|Gray Whales||Special Concern||None|
Published Papers and Books
Bigg, M.A. 1982. An assessment of killer whale (Orcinus orca) stocks off Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Rep. Int. Whaling Comm. 32:655–666 .
Bigg M.A., Olesiuk P. F., Ellis, G.M., Ford J.K.B., and Balcomb, K.C. III. 1990. Social organization and genealogy of resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the coastal waters of British Columbia and Washington State. Rep. Int. Whaling Comm. 12 (Spec. Issue): 383–405.
Clarke, C.L., and Jamieson, G.S. 2006. Identification of ecologically and biologically significant areas in the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area: Phase 1 – Identification of Important Areas. Can Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2678: 89 pp.
Darling, J.D. 1984. Gray whales off Vancouver Island, British Columbia. In: The Gray Whale Eschrictius robustus. Ed. by: M.L. Jones, S.L. Swartz, and S. Leatherwood. Academic Press, New York. pp. 267-287.
Darling, J.D., Keogh, K.E., and Steeves, T.M. 1998. Gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) habitat utilization and prey species off Vancouver Island, B.C. Marine Mammal Science, 14(4): 692-720.
Ford J.K.B., and Fisher H. D. 1982. Killer whale (Orcinus orca) dialects as an indicator of stocks in British Columbia. Rep. Int. Whaling Comm. 32: 671–679.
Ford, J.K.B. 1989. Acoustic behaviour of resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) off Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Can. J. Zool. 67: 727-745.
Ford, J.K.B. 1991. Vocal traditions among resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) in coastal waters of British Columbia. Can. J. Zool. 69: 1454-1483.
Ford, J.K.B., Ellis, G.M. and Balcomb K.C. 2000. Killer whales: the natural history and genealogy of Orcinus orca in the waters of British Columbia and Washington. UBC Press, Vancouver, BC, and University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.
Gregr, E.J., and Trites, A.W. 2001. Predictions of critical habitat for five whale species in the waters of coastal British Columbia. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 58:1265-1285.
Gregr, E. J., Nichol, L., Ford, J. K. B., Ellis, G., and Trites, A. W. 2000. Migration and population structure of northeastern Pacific whales off coastal British Columbia: An analysis of commercial whaling records from 1908-1967. Mar. Mamm. Sci. 16(4): 699-727.
Ford, J.K.B., Durban, J.W., Ellis, G M., Towers, J.R., Pilkington, J.F. Barrett-Lennard, L.B., and Andrews, R.D. 2012. New insights into the northward migration route of gray whales between Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and southeastern Alaska. Marine Mammal Science. ( In Press).
Olesiuk, P.F., Bigg, M.A., and Ellis, G.M. 1990. Life history and population dynamics of resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the coastal waters of British Columbia and Washington State. Rep. Int. Whal. Commn. Special Issue 12: 209-242.
Stelle, L.L., Megill, W.M., and Kinzel, M.R. 2008. Activity budget and diving behavior of gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) in feeding grounds of coastal British Columbia. Mar. Mamm. Sci. 24: 462-478.
Williams, R., and Thomas, L. 2007. Distribution and abundance of marine mammals in coastal waters of British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management. 9(1): 15-28.
Williams, R., and O’Hara, P. 2010.Modelling ship strike risk to fin, humpback and killer whales in British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management. 11(1): 1-8.
Williams, R., Ashe, E., and O’Hara, P.D. 2011. Marine mammals and debris in coastal waters of British Columbia, Canada. Marine Pollution Bulletin 62: 1303-1316.
Bigg M. A., MacAskie, I.B., and Ellis, G. 1976. Abundance and movements of killer whales off eastern and southern Vancouver Island with comments on management. Arctic Biological Station, Canadian Dept. of Fisheries and Environment, Ste Anne-de-Bellevue, QC.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2008. Recovery strategy for the northern and southern resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa. 81pp.
Ford J.K.B. 2006. An assessment of critical habitats of resident killer whales in waters off the Pacific coast of Canada. Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2006/072.
Ford, J.K.B., Abernethy, R M., Phillips, A.V., Calambokidis, J., Ellis, G.M., and Nichol, L. M. Distribution and relative abundance of cetaceans in western Canadian waters from ship surveys, 2002-2008. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2913. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, BC. 51 pp.
Nichol, L.M., Abernethy, R., Flostrand, L., Lee, T.S., and Ford, J.K.B. 2009. Information relevant to the identification of critical habitats of North Pacific humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in British Columbia. Can. Sci. Adv. Sec. Res. Doc. 2009/116.
Nichol, L.M. and Ford, J.K.B. 2011. Information relevant to the assessment of critical habitat for Blue, Fin, Sei and North Pacific Right Whales in British Columbia. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2011. 31 pp.
Olesiuk, P.F., Ellis, G.M., and Ford, J.K.B. 2005. Life history and population dynamics of northern resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) in British Columbia. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2005/045.