In this project I want to use old data from the historic catch of killer whales, and my own data from studies of live whale groups off the Norwegian coast, to try to quantify and describe what effects the catch of whales might have had on present day groups. Since 1987 I have been studying killer whale groups in Norwegian costal waters means of photographic identification of individual whales, and from studies, and from knowledge about whales in other regions of the world, I am certain that there have been some severe effects. But, I want to study it in detail, by collaborating with experts in modelling populations. This way I might be able to tease out knowledge that have large conservation value, which is important, as catch of killer whales is going on in several regions even today, and there are calls to catch whales in places where they are protected today.
The official Norwegian data set on the historic catch of killer whales describes information from 2,435 killer whales killed in the North Atlantic in the period 1938-1981. The data gives information on location, the sex of the whale, its length, plus meat and blubber weights. Our own data from live Norwegian groups of killer whales descrices groups identity and composition involving approx 1,000 whales, some of them over as much as three decades.
Utilizing these data, and additional data from the scientific literature, I want to develop a model on killer whale population dynamics, where I by manipulating input values on life history (mortality, life expectancy, age of maturity etc.) could be able to compare the resulting popualtion modelled from this starting point to present day killer whale groups and see whether it adds up. To be able to do this I need to collaborate with people in other countries, and people need to get paid for their services.
I have great faith in this project and I think it potentially could give som highly valuable results and insights with great conservation value.