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Abstract

Killer Whales are well-known as predators of other marine mammals, including the large Sperm and baleen whales. Members of all marine mammal families, except the river dolphins and manatees, have been recorded as prey of Killer Whales; attacks have been observed on 20 species of cetaceans, 14 species of pinnipeds, the Sea Otter, and the Dugong. Ecological interactions have not been systematically studied and further work may indicate that the Killer Whale is a more important predator for some populations than previously believed. Not all behavioural interactions between Killer Whales and other marine mammal species result in predation, however. Some involve ‘harassment’ by the Killer Whales, feeding by both species in the same area, porpoises playing around Killer Whales, both species apparently ‘ignoring’ each other, and even apparently unprovoked attacks on Killer Whales by sea lions. These non-predatory interactions are relatively common. We conclude that interactions between Killer Whales and marine mammals are complex, involving many different factors that we are just beginning to understand.