Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Geostatistical analyses of interactions between killer whales (Orcinus orca) and recreational whale-watching boats

Geostatistical analyses of interactions between killer whales (Orcinus orca) and recreational whale-watching boats

D. E. Jelinski,a C. C. Krueger,b and D. A. Duffusc. 2002. Geostatistical analyses of interactions between killer whales (Orcinus orca) and recreational whale-watching boats. Applied Geography Volume 22, Issue 4 , October 2002 , Pages 393-411

a Department of Geography and School of Environmental Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6
b Department of Geography, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14261, USA
c Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 1E8

Received 24 January 2000; revised 28 June 2002; accepted 5 July 2002. ; Available online 22 November 2002.

Abstract

Johnstone Strait in coastal British Columbia, Canada, is a core habitat for seasonal concentrations of killer whales (Orcinus orca), which have attracted considerable attention from commercial whale-watching operators and recreational boaters. Within the Strait lies the Robson Bight-Michael Bigg Ecological Reserve, a marine reserve set aside as critical habitat for killer whales and closed to recreational boat traffic. The geography of encounters between killer whales and seven types of whale-watching vessels (including kayaks, charter and pleasure craft) in and near this reserve was analysed with a suite of geostatistics in a geographic information system (GIS) vector environment.

Reserve boundary violation was high among most user groups, with kayakers being the most frequent offenders. Motorized vessels had significantly longer contact times with whales compared to kayaks and sailboats. Motorized vessels showed the travel characteristic of deliberate tracking of whales. The movements of killer whales also appear to be affected by boats. These results have important implications for killer whale conservation and management in areas where they are subject to intensive whale-watching activities, and possible chronic disturbance.

1 Present address: 26928 Marbella Road, Mission Viejo, CA, 92691

Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-613-545-6875; fax: +1-613-545-6122; email: dj4@qsilver.queensu.ca