Aerial images document Southern Resident killer whale J17’s continued decline

Drone-derived aerial images collected last week during a research collaboration between SR3 and NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center have documented a continued decline in body condition of an adult female Southern Resident killer whale, J17. More details are provided by NOAA's West Coast Regional Office at http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/stories/2019/15_05152019-srkw-j17.html. These new data highlight the vulnerability of these endangered whales and the value of our non-invasive aerial photogrammetry to provide key information on whale health to support conservation actions.

Aerial images of adult female Southern Resident killer whale “J17," displaying very poor body condition on May 6th 2019. Note the white eye patches that trace the outline of her skull due to a reduction in fat around the head. Her condition is contrasted to September 2018, when she was also very lean but had not yet developed such an obvious "peanut head", and to September 2015 when she was clearly pregnant (note width at mid body) and in peak recent condition. Images obtained by Holly Fearnbach  (  SR3)    and John Durban  (  NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center  )  using a remotely-piloted drone under NMFS Research Permit #19091.

Aerial images of adult female Southern Resident killer whale “J17," displaying very poor body condition on May 6th 2019. Note the white eye patches that trace the outline of her skull due to a reduction in fat around the head. Her condition is contrasted to September 2018, when she was also very lean but had not yet developed such an obvious "peanut head", and to September 2015 when she was clearly pregnant (note width at mid body) and in peak recent condition. Images obtained by Holly Fearnbach (SR3) and John Durban (NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center) using a remotely-piloted drone under NMFS Research Permit #19091.