Skip to main content
×
Home

Killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Angolan and Gulf of Guinea waters, tropical West Africa

  • Caroline R Weir (a1) (a2), Tim Collins (a3) (a4), Inês Carvalho (a5) (a6) and Howard C. Rosenbaum (a3) (a6)
Abstract

Killer whales Orcinus orca are considered to be relatively uncommon in tropical waters. Few sightings have been reported from the west coast of Africa due to a paucity of survey coverage. We present data on 32 killer sightings from tropical waters off Angola (N = 18), Gabon (N = 7), São Tomé (N = 6) and Cameroon (N = 1), comprising a combination of dedicated survey sightings (N = 21) and reliable anecdotal records (n = 11). Killer whales were reported from coastal waters, the shelf edge and deep, oceanic areas. Sightings indicate a probable year-round occurrence of killer whales within the region. Mean group size was 5.6 animals. There was no difference in group size between sightings in waters >200 m deep and those on the continental shelf. No photo-identification matches were found between Angola, Gabon and São Tomé. Re-sightings of two individuals occurred annually in São Tomé during 2002–2004. Killer whales had external appearance consistent with the Type A nominate species form. Antagonistic encounters were recorded between killer whales and humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae off Angola, Gabon and Cameroon, and with sperm whales Physeter macrocephalus off Angola. Predation on ocean sunfish Mola mola was recorded in São Tomé, and possible predation on sharks was recorded twice in Gabon.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: C.R. Weir, Ketos Ecology, 44 Lord Hay's Grove, Old Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 1WS, UK email: c.r.weir@abdn.ac.uk
References
Hide All
Aloncle H. (1964) Premières observations sur les petits cétacés des côtes Marocaines. Bulletin de L'Institute des Pêches Maritime du Maroc 12, 2142.
Anon (2000) Report on ‘The conservation and management of small cetaceans of the coast of Africa’, Conakry, 8–12 May 2000. Submitted to Tenth Meeting of the CMS Scientific Council, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2–4 May 2001. [Translation by W.F. Perrin, February 2001.]
Arnbom T.V., Papastavrou V., Weilgart L.S. and Whitehead H. (1987) Sperm whales react to an attack by killer whales. Journal of Mammalogy 68, 450453.
Baird R.W. (2000) The killer whale: foraging specializations and group hunting. In Mann J., Connor R., Tyack P. and Whitehead H. (eds) Cetacean societies: field studies of dolphins and whales. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 127153.
Baird R.W. and Dill L.M. (1995) Occurrence and behavior of transient killer whales: seasonal and pod-specific variability, foraging behavior, and prey handling. Canadian Journal of Zoology 73, 13001311.
Baird R.W., McSweeney D.J., Bane C., Barlow J., Salden D.R., Antoine L.R., LeDuc R.G. and Webster D.L. (2006) Killer whales in Hawaiian waters: information on population identity and feeding habits. Pacific Science 60, 523530.
Bayed A. and Beaubrun P.C. (1987) Les Mammifères Marin du Maroc: inventaire préliminaire. Mammalia 51, 437446.
Best P.B., Canham P.A.S. and MacLeod N. (1984) Patterns of reproduction in sperm whales, Physeter macrocephalus. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 6, 5179.
Brennan B. and Rodriguez P. (1994) Report of two orca attacks on cetaceans in the Galápagos. Noticias de Galápagos 54, 2829.
Budylenko G.A. (1981) Distribution and some aspects of the biology of killer whales in the South Atlantic. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 31, 523525.
Cadenat J. (1959) Rapport sur les petits cétacés ouest-africains. Bulletin d'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire 21, 13671409.
Corkeron P.J. and Connor R.C. (1999) Why do baleen whales migrate? Marine Mammal Science 15, 12281245.
Dahlheim M.E. and Heyning J.E. (1999) Killer whale Orcinus orca (Linnaeus, 1758). In Ridgway S.H. and Harrison R. (eds) Handbook of marine mammals, Volume 6, The second book of dolphins and the porpoises. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, pp. 281321.
DeKeyser P.L. (1955) Les mammifères de l'Afrique Noire Française. Initiations Africaines, Volume I. Dakar: Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire.
Dupuy A.R. and Maigret J. (1976) Les mammifères marins des côtes du Sénégal. 1. Bilan des observations signalées entre 1960 et 1976. Bulletin d'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire 38, 921928.
Fertl D., Acevedo Gutierrez A. and Darby Forbes L. (1996) A report of killer whales (Orcinus orca) feeding on a carcharhinid shark in Costa Rica. Marine Mammal Science 12, 606611.
Findlay K.P., Best P.B., Ross G.J.B. and Cockroft V.G. (1992) The distribution of small odontocete cetaceans off the coasts of South Africa and Namibia. South African Journal of Marine Science 12, 237270.
Florez-Gonzalez L., Capella J.J. and Rosenbaum H.C. (1994) Attack of killer whales (Orcinus orca) on humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) on a South American Pacific breeding ground. Marine Mammal Science 10, 218222.
Ford J.K.B., Ellis G.M., Barrett-Lennard L.G., Morton A.B., Palm R.S. and Balcomb K.C. (1999) Dietary specialization in two sympatric populations of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in coastal British Columbia and adjacent waters. Canadian Journal of Zoology 76, 14561471.
Forney K.A. and Wade P. (2006) Worldwide distribution and abundance of killer whales. In Estes J.A., Brownell R.L., DeMaster D.P., Doak D.F. and Williams T.M. (eds) Whales, whaling and ocean ecosystems. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 125.
Goley P.D. and Straley J.M. (1994) Attack on gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) in Monterey Bay, California, by killer whales (Orcinus orca) previously identified in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Canadian Journal of Zoology 72, 15281530.
Guerrero Ruiz M., Gendron D. and Urban R.J. (1998) Distribution, movements and communities of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 48, 537543.
Hammond P.S. and Lockyer C. (1988) Distribution of killer whales in the eastern North Atlantic. Rit Fiskideildar 11, 2441.
Hammond P.S., Mizroch S.A. and Donovan G.P. (1990) Individual recognition of cetaceans: use of photo-identification and other techniques to estimate population parameters. Reports of the International Whaling Commission Special Issue 12. Cambridge: International Whaling Commission.
Hazevoet C.J. and Wenzel F.W. (2002) Whales and dolphins (Mammalia, Cetacea) of the Cape Verde Islands, with special reference to the humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae (Borowski, 1781). Contributions in Zoology 69, 197211.
Hoelzel A.R., Dahlheim M. and Stern S.J. (1998) Low genetic variation among killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the eastern North Pacific and genetic differentiation between foraging specialists. Journal of Heredity 89, 121128.
Ilangakoon A., Mahendra W.P. and Subasinghe H.A.K. (1992) On rare cetacean species off Sri Lanka, including the killer whale Orcinus orca (Linn.) (Delphinidae: Cetacea). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 89, 363365.
Iñíguez M.A. (2001) Seasonal distribution of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Northern Patagonia, Argentina. Aquatic Mammals 27, 154161.
IUCN (2008) 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Accessed 2 January 2009.
Jefferson T.A., Stacey P.J. and Baird R.W. (1991) A review of killer whale interactions with other marine mammals: predation to co-existence. Mammal Review 4, 151180.
Jefferson T.A., Curry B.E., Leatherwood S. and Powell J.A. (1997) Dolphins and porpoises of West Africa: a review of records (Cetacea: Delphinidae, Phocoenidae). Mammalia 61, 87108.
Jones I.M. (2006) A Northeast Pacific offshore killer whale (Orcinus orca) feeding on a Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis). Marine Mammal Science 22, 198200.
Katona S.K., Beard J.A., Girton P.E. and Wenzel F. (1988) Killer whales (Orcinus orca) from the Bay of Fundy to the Equator, including the Gulf of Mexico. Rit Fiskideildar 11, 205224.
Maigret J. (1990) Observations d'orques Orcinus orca Linné 1758 sur les côtes nord ouest africaines. Bulletin d'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire 47, 190197.
Mikhalev Y.A., Ivashin M.V., Savusin V.P. and Zelenaya F.E. (1981) The distribution and biology of killer whales in the southern hemisphere. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 31, 551565.
Nottestad L. and Axelsen B.E. (1999) Herring schooling manoeuvres in response to killer whale attacks. Canadian Journal of Zoology 77, 15401546.
O'Sullivan S. and Mullin K.D. (1997) Killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Marine Mammal Science 13, 141147.
Palacios D.M. and Mate B.R. (1996) Attack by false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) on sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the Galápagos Islands. Marine Mammal Science 12, 582587.
Paterson R.A. and Paterson P. (2001) A presumed killer whale (Orcinus orca) attack on humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) at Point Lookout, Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 42, 436.
Pitman R.L. and Ensor P. (2003) Three forms of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Antarctic waters. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 5, 131139.
Pitman R.L., Balance L.T., Mesnick S.L. and Chivers S. (2001) Killer whale predation on sperm whales: observations and implications. Marine Mammal Science 17, 494507.
Pitman R.L., O'Sullivan S. and Mase B. (2003) Killer whales (Orcinus orca) attack a school of pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) in the Gulf of Mexico. Aquatic Mammals 29, 321324.
Pitman R.L., Fearnbach H., LeDuc R., Gilpatrick Jr. J.W., Ford J.K.B. and Ballance L.T. (2007) Killer whales prey on a blue whale calf on the Costa Rica Dome: genetics, morphometrics, vocalizations and composition of the group. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 9, 151157.
Reeves R.R. and Mitchell E. (1988) Killer whale sightings and takes by American pelagic whalers in the North Atlantic. Rit Fiskideildar 11, 723.
Reiner F., Dos Santos M.E. and Wenzel F.W. (1996) Cetaceans of the Cape Verde Archipelago. Marine Mammal Science 12, 434443.
Rice F.H. and Saayman G.S. (1987) Distribution and behavior of killer whales Orcinus orca off the coasts of Southern Africa. Investigations on Cetacea 20, 231250.
Robineau D. and Vely M. (1998) Les cétacés des côtes de Mauritanie (Afrique du Nord-Oest). Particularités et variations spatio-temporelles de repartition: role des facteurs océanographiques. Revue d'Ecologie (la Terre et la Vie) 53, 123152.
Silber G.K., Newcomer M.W. and Perez Cortes M.H. (1990) Killer whales Orcinus orca attack and kill a Bryde's whale Balaenoptera edeni. Canadian Journal of Zoology 68, 16031606.
Steiger G.H., Calambokidis J., Straley J.M., Herman L.M., Cerchio S., Salden D.R., Urbán J., Jacobsen J.K., von Ziegesar O., Balcomb K.C., Gabriele C.M., Dahlheim M.E., Uchida S., Ford J.K.B., de Guevara P.L., Yamaguchi M. and Barlow J. (2008) Geographic variation in killer whale attacks on humpback whales in the North Pacific: implications for predation pressure. Endangered Species Research 4, 247256.
Visser I.N. (1999a) A summary of interactions between orca (Orcinus orca) and other cetaceans in New Zealand waters. New Zealand Natural Sciences 24, 101112.
Visser I.N. (1999b) Antarctic orca in New Zealand waters? New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 33, 515520.
Visser I.N. and Bonoccorso F.J. (2003) New observations and a review of killer whale (Orcinus orca) sightings in Papua New Guinea waters. Aquatic Mammals 29, 150172.
Weir C.R. (2008a) Overt responses of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), and Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) to seismic exploration off Angola. Aquatic Mammals 34, 7183.
Weir C.R. (2008b) Occurrence and distribution of cetaceans off northern Angola, 2004–2005. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 9, 225239.
Weller D.W., Würsig B., Whitehead H., Norris J.C., Lynn S.K., Davis R.W., Clauss N. and Brown P. (1996) Observations of interaction between sperm whales and short-finned pilot whales in the Gulf of Mexico. Marine Mammal Science 12, 588593.
Whitehead H. and Glass C. (1985) Orcas (killer whales) attack humpback whales. Journal of Mammalogy 66, 183185.
Würsig B. and Jefferson T. (1990) Methods of photo-identification for small cetaceans. Reports of the International Whaling Commission Special Issue 12, 4352.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 3
Total number of PDF views: 33 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 455 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.