Bremer Canyon Killer Whales

Scientists Explore Bremer Bay canyon One of the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest seasonal populations of killer whales or orcas have begun congregating at the Bremer Bay canyon in Western Australia. The undersea Bremer Canyon lies 70 kilometres off the coast of Bremer Bay, which lies east of Albany. During a six-week period in summer a cold, saline current flows from the Antarctic Circle, filling the canyon and pushing nutrients to the surface. This attracts all sorts of marine life, including killer whales, sharks, dolphins, sperm whales and giant squid. The area also gives off traces of hydrocarbons and it is hoped to have the area protected from oil and gas exploration. Acoustic surveys have been conducted in the past. WA Minister for Tourism Kim Hames said it was important the canyon be preserved. “This is something that you wouldn’t see in many places around the world, so we need to take an opportunity like this and work out how we can preserve it and make sure everyone else knows about it,” he said. The area is a great place to study usually hard to see blue whales, killer whales, blue sharks and white sharks. Blue sharks are currently being tagged to see if they deliberately follow killer whales, “We want to see how closely related they are to the killer whales, maybe they’re following the pod to scavenge off the prey they have killed,” she said. Curtin University PhD candidate Bec Wellard has been monitoring the acoustics of killer whales. “Killer whales in the northern hemisphere have different dialects per family group so I’m interested in different dialects here in the Australian region,” she said