Analyzing the fat of killer whales reveals what they eat

Published: 20 April 2023

Scientists are studying the diets of the oceans’ top predators as they change in response to their environments. This is because how much and what they eat can affect how ecosystems function.

And while researchers know that killer whales, also known as orcas, are the oceans’ apex predators, our understanding of their diet — particularly the quantity of each species they consume — remains incomplete. This is especially true for remote populations that cannot be observed year-round.

But there’s now a way to recreate killer whales’ precise diets by using only a sample of their skin and fat.

Ph.D. candidate Anaïs Remili’s (NRS) research team developed a promising technique that reveals these wild predators’ diets across the North Atlantic Ocean.

Read or listen to the article in the Conversation Canada.

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