Behavioral ecology of killer whales at Sea Lion Island, Falkland Islands (2013-2019)

The dataseries encompasses a long-term study of killer whales at Sea Lion Island, a hotspot of killer whale sightings in the Falkland Islands, started in 2013. Killer whale sociality has been studied with a focus on social behaviour and association during predation events, that usually involve southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) as prey. The main findings are: 1) the basic social unit of Sea Lion Island killer whales is the mother-calf association, that can include up to three generations of calves; 2) multiple mother-calf pairs are often associated in pods, that are stable social units that last at least for the whole length of the season (September-March); 3) different pods, and non pod individuals, are often associated during predation events, that can involve up to 11 individuals; 4) transient killer whales, i.e. individuals that are recognized but are observed at Sea Lion Island for just a few hours to a few days, can be involved in predations events; 5) predations events involve complex social behaviours, including collaboration to keep the prey carcass floating, calf feeding facilitation by adults, and active prey sharing. Further information is available on the research group website,

Data and Resources

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Additional Info

Field Value
Last Updated December 14, 2020, 09:55 (PST)
Created January 30, 2020, 05:23 (PST)
Region Falkland Islands
Language eng
Topic Category Biota; flora and/or fauna in natural environment
Temporal Extent Start 2013-01-01
Temporal Extent End 2019-12-31
Dataset Reference Date 2019
Lineage From 2013 to 2019 coastline surveys and many hundreds of hours of observations from vantage points were carried out to determine activity patterns, social organization and hunting tactics of the killer whales of Sea Lion Island. Custom databases and forms were programmed to collect data on killer whale observations, weather and sea conditions, location of killer whales and observers, identification of individuals (visual and photographic), general activity, individual time budget, and predations. Video recordings of most predation events that happened close to the coast have been taken. To estimate the impact of killer whales on their potential preys, regular counts of elephant seals and sea lions have been carried out, and necropsies of all seals and sea lions found dead on the beaches have been done, to determine if they were killed by orcas. In 2016-2017 a semi-professional UAV (Phantom 3, DJI) has been flown over the killer whale on all days in which it was feasible and safe to fly. High resolution pictures from the dron has been analysed to identify individual, and high quality video recordings have been used to study killer activity and sociality, in particular during predation events.
West Longitude -59.1519
South Latitude -52.4486
East Longitude -59.0364
North Latitude -52.4205
Spatial Reference System WGS84
Responsible Organisation Name Hidden (personal data protection)
Contact Mail Address Hidden (personal data protection)
Responsible Party Role Hidden (personal data protection)
Access Limitations Restricted, send data request to data owner
Use Constraints Restricted, but open subject to limitations and prior agreement with responsible organisation. Copyright must be cited
Resource Reference Copyright ESRG 1995-present - All Rights Reserved. Please contact ESRG before citing unpublished reports.
Data Format csv
Update Frequency annually
Accuracy Collection of all other data is compliant to usual research standards, and a great effort is put to guarantee high repeatability of data.
Resource Type Dataseries
Original Title Hidden (internal use only)
Metadata Date 2019-04-03
Metadata Point of Contact
Contact Consent Contact details hidden
Unique Resource ID FK-ESRG-389

Dataset extent

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