U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in MARINE MAMMAL SCIENCE (2011) 27(1): 60–77; DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2010.00386.x


Killer whales are large animals that often feed in groups and thus have the potential to deplete prey populations. Determining predator energy requirements is essential to assessing whether prey availability is sufficient. This is important because one risk factor facing the endangered Southern Resident killer whale distinct population segment is limited prey availability. Body mass, field metabolic rate (FMR), and daily prey energy requirements (DPERs) were estimated for each individual in the population. FMRs were calculated from body mass, assuming they range from five to six times Kleiber-predicted basal metabolic rates. FMRs of adults were also calculated from resident killer whale activity budgets and the metabolic cost of swimming at speeds associated with daily activities. These two methods yielded similar results. Total FMRs varied by age and sex, which is partly due to the long developmental period and sexual dimorphism in killer whales. FMRs for males (465–4,434 kg) ranged from 35,048 to 228,216 kcal/d while FMRs for females (465–3,338 kg) ranged from 35,048 to 184,444 kcal/d. DPERs were calculated from FMRs assuming a standard digestive efficiency. Corresponding DPERs ranged from 41,376 to 269,458 kcal/d and 41,376 to 217,775 kcal/d, respectively.