Tastes differ — even among North Atlantic killer whales

Killer whales (also known as orcas) are intelligent predators. While it’s known that killer whales in the Pacific Northwest exploit widely different food types, even within the same region, we know much less about the feeding habits of those found throughout the North Atlantic. Thanks to a new technique, it is now possible to quantify the proportion of different prey that killer whales in the North Atlantic are eating by studying the fatty acid patterns in their blubber. As climate change leads to a northward redistribution of killer whales, the results have implications not only for the health and survival of these killer whales, but also in terms of potential impacts on sensitive species within Arctic ecosystems.