[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Mayo (1982) reported that in Cape Cod Bay and on the southwest edge of Stellwagen Bank, orcas have been observed feeding on bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, which is thought to be their principal prey item in the area. Leatherwood and others (1976) noted that the arrival of orcas in the waters of Cape Cod coincided with that of bluefin tuna suggesting that their distribution is influenced by the presence and abundance of that prey. Orcas are considered opportunistic feeders, feeding on both baleen and toothed cetaceans, seabirds, pinnipeds, marine turtles, schooling fish and squid (Katona et al. 1988).
[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Group Size and Composition
Group sizes recorded in the Stellwagen Bank and Cape Cod Bay region ranged from 1 to 20 animals (Center for Coastal Studies unpublished data). The largest group reported in the southern Gulf of Maine contained at least 40 animals (Katona et al. 1988). Information regarding the social organization of orcas in the western North Atlantic is unavailable; however, studies based on individual identification conducted off the northwestern coast of North America report that matrilineal groups are the basic unit of social organization (Bigg et al. 1990). Groups contain both males and females and animals of mixed ages.[/SIZE][/FONT]
The New York Times
October 23, 1982, Saturday, Late City Final Edition
SECTION: Section 1; Page 6, Column 2; National Desk
HEADLINE: PLAYFUL KILLER WHALE MAKES A HOME IN HARBOR
DATELINE: PROVINCETOWN, Mass., Oct. 22
A killer whale has been frolicking in Provincetown Harbor for more than a month, attracting large crowds and creating concern among scientists that the good life might be bad for its health.
The 15-foot-long whale, believed to be a female and nicknamed Geraldine by onlookers and the press and Gemini by scientists, is not an ordinary, run-of-the-sea whale. When not breaching and sounding, she allows herself to be petted by people in boats, and even to be hand-fed tidbits of fish, a practice discouraged by scientists who hope the animal would return to its kind in the ocean.
Charles Mayo, director of whale research at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, describes Geraldine/ Gemini as a ''glorified porpoise or dolphin, one of the most powerful of all carnivores on earth.''
Killer whales are scientifically classified as Orcinus orca. Orcas are rare in these waters and are found more often off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Orcas Travel in Packs
Orcas generally travel in packs of 10 to 20, dominated by large males, according to Dr. Mayo. They are not considered especially dangerous to people, he says, but packs will attack larger fish and whales, using their powerful jaws and teeth to tear off great chunks of flesh. Few are found in aquariums, where they are not considered good inhabitants.
At first it was believed that the Provincetown whale was ill and would strand itself and die, or if healthy, would soon tire of town life and go back to the deep. But no. Once the whale was actually towed out to sea, after being caught in shallow waters near the Wellfleet Audubon Society's sanctuary, but she promptly returned to shore waters and high living.
The whale was sighted off several Cape Cod towns in the summer, and whale watchers believe the same animal has been seen all along the East Coast in the last year. The New England Aquarium in Boston is said to have a ''large book'' on her travels and antics.
The whale has been struck at least twice by boats in Provincetown Harbor and collided with buoys and moorings, resulting in numerous scratches on her back. Otherwise, except for an infected left eye, she appears to be in good health. But in a couple of weeks gill netters will start leaving the harbor, and the whale could become entangled in the nets, injuring herself.
'Something Has to Be Done'
''We still don't know what to do about it, but most everyone concerned agrees that something has to be done,'' Dr. Mayo said. ''If she continues to remain in the harbor, she risks incurring more injuries.''
The National Marine Fisheries has the primary responsibility for protecting whales, and it, in conjunction with the New England Aquarium, will probably decide the whale's fate. The decision will be based on recommendations by experts and data from Dr. Mayo and Robert Prescott, director of the Audobon sanctuary, who towed the creature out to sea several weeks ago.
One option under consideration is to pen the animal and take a blood sample to determine if she has a disease that is making her stay near shore. If this were the case, she would be treated. The experts have also considered towing her back to sea again, but they believe she would just return to the harbor.
A third choice is to do nothing and hope the whale leaves of her own accord, but that appears increasingly unlikely. A fourth alternative would be to capture the whale and place her in an aquarium, a solution that most scientists view as a last resort.
''No one really likes the idea of putting her in an aquarium,'' said Dr. Mayo, who added that entrapment posed a threat to the health of any wild animal. ''But it's getting down to the point where the crunch is on and something has to be done.''
The New York Times
November 14, 1982, Sunday, Late City Final Edition
SECTION: Section 1; Part 2; Page 53, Column 4; Metropolitan Desk
HEADLINE: FOLLOW-UP ON THE NEWS;
'Pet' Killer Whale
For more than a month, the killer whale had romped in the harbor at Provincetown, Mass., accepting handouts of fish and affectionate pats from people in boats. Marine scientists, saying killer whales usually preferred Newfoundland waters, feared for the health of the 15-foot female, nicknamed Geraldine by onlookers.
A news report last Oct. 22 said the experts were considering four alternatives: (1) Pen the whale for a health check and treatment of any disease that might be prompting her stay; (2) Tow her out to sea (but this had been tried once, and she had returned); (3) Do nothing and let the whale leave of her own accord; (4) Capture her and put her in an aquarium.
Geraldine has chosen Option 3.