In most wildlife communities, males leave the family and create territories of their own, often with a harem of females that they mate with. However, a male resident orca stays with his mother and siblings for life.

Opportunities to mate occur when one pod meets another within the same community. The male returns to his family and plays no apparent further role in the raising of the calf, as his offspring are raised by the female’s family in the other pod. However, in 2017 when a young orca was struggling to survive, his presumed father was seen with him, and his mother, near the end of his life.

Although the range of Northern and Southern Residents overlap slightly in the Salish Sea, the vocalizations of the two communities appear to have nothing in common, and there’s no DNA evidence that they’ve interbred. They share a common pescatarian diet and matrilineal family structure, but in other senses, it’s almost as if they’re different species.

Similarly, transient orcas do not interact with the residents and seem to actively avoid them. It’s believed that these two types of orcas diverged about thousands of years ago, with different cultures and languages. DNA shows that they also do not interbreed, except sadly in captive situations where artificial insemination occurs.