Josh McInnes


Thesis Topic

Ascertaining the Community and Sub-Population Structure of West Coast Transient (Bigg’s) Killer Whales in the Northeastern Pacific.


Dr. Andrew Trites


BSc, Biology, University of Victoria

Research Unit

Marine Mammal Research Unit


Josh is a new IOF MSc student interested in the ecology, foraging behaviour and spatial ecology of marine mammals. In particular killer whales. Josh grew up on Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada where he has been studying and working with transient (Bigg’s) killer whales for over a decade. Josh is fascinated by the cultural and behavioural dynamics between and within populations and how these behaviours are utilized for hunting different prey species. To better understand the ecology of killer whales, Josh traveled and worked in remote locations off British Columbia, Washington State, Alaska, California, Australia, and Antarctica.

He completed a BSc major in biology at the University of Victoria. Prior to graduating, Josh has been studying the ecology of toothed cetaceans in Monterey Bay, as the research coordinator at Marine Life Studies. Josh is also a member of the North Indian Ocean Killer Whale Alliance, a lead researcher at Killer Whales Australia, a biologist and naturalist for Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic, a scientific advisor at Ocean Sanctuaries in San Diego, and an active collaborator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

Josh’s work at IOF will involve analyzing large spatial sighting and encounter datasets of transient killer whales belonging to the West Coast population inhabiting the waters from Southeast Alaska to Southern California. His goal is to try and understand the population dynamics and community structure of these whales and how prey distribution and density may contribute unique assemblages or communities that require specific conservation management.

Josh will be supervised by IOF faculty member and world marine mammal expert Dr. Andrew Trites at the Marine Mammal Research Unit and can be reached at

Research Interests

Josh’s main interests are in marine ecology, marine mammal biology, food web ecology, ethology, and oceanic pelagic ecosystems.

Selected Publications

Donnelly, D. M., McInnes, J. D., Jenner, K. C. S., Jenner, M. N. M., & Morrice, M. (2021). The First Records of Antarctic Type B and C Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in Australian Coastal Waters. Aquatic Mammals, 47(3), 292-302.

McInnes, Josh D., Chelsea R. Mathieson, Peggy J. West-Stap, Stephanie L. Marcos, Victoria L. Wade, Paula A. Olson, and Andrew W. Trites. 2021. Transient killer whales of central and northern California and Oregon: A catalog of photo-identified individuals. U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SWFSC-644.

Gemmell, G. L., McInnes, J. D., Heinrichs, S. J., & de Silva Wijeyeratne, G. (2015). Killer whale (Orcinus orca) predation on whales in Sri Lankan waters. Aquatic Mammals, 41(3), 265.

McInnes, J.D., Buckmaster, J.N., Cullen, K.D., Mathieson, C.R., & Tawes, J.P. (2020). Intentional stranding by mammal-hunting killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the Salish Sea. Aquatic Mammals, 46(6), 556-560.

McInnes, J.D., Mathieson, C. R., West-Stap, P. J., Marcos, S. L., Wade, V. L., Moore, J. E., and Olson, P. A. 2020. Recent trends in the ecology of transient killer whales in Monterey Bay, California 2006-2018. Poster presented at: CalCOFI Conference 2020: Understanding unprecedented changes in California’s marine and coastal environment; December 1-2, 2020; online.

Contact Information


Social Media

Facebook: The Transient Killer Whale Research Project