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Keywords:

  • fin whale;
  • Balaenoptera physalus;
  • sei whale;
  • Balaenoptera borealis;
  • sperm whale;
  • Physeter macrocephalus;
  • diet;
  • stomach contents;
  • British Columbia;
  • North Pacific

Abstract

Diets of fin (Balaenoptera physalus), sei (Balaenoptera borealis), and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) were estimated from the stomach contents of individuals killed along the British Columbia coast from 1963 to 1967. The dominant prey types of fin whales were euphausiids, with minor contributions from copepods and fish. Sei whale stomachs contained primarily copepods in three years, whereas euphausiids or a variety of fish dominated the diet in the other two years. Sperm whales consumed primarily North Pacific giant squid (Moroteuthis robusta), but secondary prey differed between males and females. Female sperm whales frequently consumed ragfish (Icosteus spp.) and other fish, whereas the male diet also contained rockfish (Sebastes spp.). The high abundance of euphausiids along the British Columbia coast likely contributed to the presence of a summer resident population of fin whales. The high abundance of large copepods farther north probably influenced the migration of sei whales through the offshore waters of British Columbia. Sperm whale stomach contents differed by sex reflecting location and possibly breeding behaviors.