UPDATE, Dec. 7
I have received word from researcher Robin Baird that the last
remaining transmitter tracking the “tropical oceanic” killer whales
stopped working on Nov. 26, six days after this report. The
transmitter presumably fell off. I’ve attached a map provided by
Robin in the comments section at the bottom of this page. It shows
the whales’ last 10 days of travel. They kept on moving
“Tropical oceanic” killer whales, which were tagged near Hawaii and tracked by satellite, have now moved about 860 miles west.
As of yesterday, they were approaching Johnston Atoll, seen just to the left of their last known location shown on the map above, according to Robin Baird of Cascadia Research Collective, based in Olympia.
Initially, three orcas were tagged in this first effort to track the unique breed of killer whale, which travels in the open ocean. For a description of tropical oceanic killer whales, including their varying diet, review the entry in Water Ways on Nov. 12.
Two of the three transmitters attached to the whales have stopped working, presumably because the barbed tags fell off the animals. One transmitter, attached to an adult female, continues to send out information about the location of the four whales, assuming they have stayed together.
After traveling northwest through the Hawaiian Islands, the whales have taken a pretty direct path toward Johnston Atoll, slowing down a few times along the way. It will be interesting to see where they go next.