What is considered to be the Southern Resident killer whale’s habitat or range?

The best scientific data available shows that Southern Resident killer whales’ habitat (also called their range) is from Haida Gwaii in British Columbia to the north, along the Pacific coast to Monterey California in the south and the inland waters…

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How long do killer whales live?

Lifespan varies between the sexes; females tend to outlive their male counterparts by roughly 10-20 years. On average, female Southern Resident killer whales can live to be 80 years old and males 50. Over the last several decades we have seen the…

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How many calves can a female killer whale have in her lifetime?

Currently, females within the Southern Resident killer whale population raise approximately one healthy calf every 10 years. Most females reach sexual maturity in their early teenage years, while males don’t begin breeding until age 25. One of the…

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Do killer whales migrate?

The short answer is yes, and no. Killer whales are one of the most widespread mammals on the planet. They exist in every ocean, yet each population has a unique diet and social structure, making them separate ecotypes. These differences (especially…

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Since orcas can’t turn their heads around to see each other, how do they communication within their pod?

Orcas have pretty good eyesight below and above water, and can often be seen spy hopping, where they raise their head vertically, apparently taking in their surroundings. However, as they live in an often murky underwater environment, communication…

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What are Bigg’s killer whales?

In the Pacific Northwest, orcas that hunt marine mammals were first described as transients, as they were rarely seen. They later became known as Bigg’s Killer Whales, named after biologist Michael Bigg, who was the first to recognize that killer…

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Why do the pods have letter names?

These letters were first assigned to the two communities of fish-eating killer whales of the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s and were based on observed family relationships and association between the families, and their unique dialects and…

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Resident vs. Transient killer whales – what’s the difference?

In the Pacific Northwest, scientists recognize three different types of killer whale – referred to as “eco-types”: fish-eaters (resident), marine mammal specialists (transient), and presumed shark specialists (offshore). When studies…

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Can orcas communicate with each other?

Around the world, orcas have been recorded using a variety of calls, clicks, and whistles for communication within the family group. The southern residents’ language is so sophisticated that it contains three distinct dialects, one for each of the…

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Do orcas grieve?

Orcas have large brains for their body size, and the region used for emotional intelligence is particularly well-developed. Southern Resident Killer Whales are a tightly bonded, close-knit community, who share a common language, traditions, and…

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Is a killer whale a whale or a dolphin?

Orca pods hunting large whales earned them the name whale killers, which was later flipped to killer whales, but they’re actually the largest member of the dolphin family. The dolphin family (perhaps confusingly) is in a larger classification of…

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What and where is the Salish Sea?

The Salish Sea—an inland sea—is one of the most biologically diverse inland waterways in the world. Geographically it stretches from north of Vancouver, Canada to south of Seattle, Washington. The Salish Sea encompasses the coastal waterways of the…

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Do Southern Resident killer whales breed outside of their pod? Do they breed with transients?

In most wildlife communities, males leave the family and create territories of their own, often with a harem of females, they mate with. Male resident killer whales stay with their mother and their siblings for their entire lives. Opportunities to…

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How do killer whales sleep?

How do you sleep when you’re in a three-dimensional space like the ocean? To complicate this, breathing for orcas is not an automatic function, as it is for us. Being mammals, they can only breathe at the surface, and must consciously open their…

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What is the correct name? Orca or Killer Whale?

The answer is both! Orcinus orca is the Latin scientific name, while killer whale is its common name. Scientists interchangeably use orca and killer whale. Our past relationship with orcas has not always been as favorable as today. Beginning with…

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Is wild caught Alaskan salmon sustainable?

Many consumer guides to ocean-friendly seafood list wild-caught Alaska salmon as sustainable, and the entire fishery is certified sustainable to the standards of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). However, it is widely accepted that many of the…

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What kind of salmon should I be eating to help the whales?

Southern Resident killer whales primarily eat Chinook salmon. Chinook, also known as King Salmon, is the largest of the Pacific salmon, with the highest fat content and therefore has the highest calorie count essential for supporting the health of…

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Should we just ban fishing to provide more salmon for orcas?

It’s important to recognize that fishing alone is not the problem. Pacific salmon are struggling for many reasons, including historical overfishing, but their challenge to thrive is impacted by the loss of habitat in streams, rivers, and seas,…

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Why don’t hatcheries just produce more salmon for orcas?

Government-funded hatcheries have attempted to produce more salmon for everyone; as wild stocks declined, hatchery fish were intended to bridge the gap. Billions of hatchery-raised salmon have been released into the rivers of Washington State,…

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Will killing sealions fix the salmon problem?

It’s true that seals and sea lions do eat salmon, but it’s a very small portion of their diet, as they eat many other species. Marine mammals like these are important predators in the marine ecosystem, as they help to control disease in…

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Is the fishing industry responsible for the lack of salmon?

Pacific salmon are highly complex species that rely on fresh and saltwater habitats in their lifetime, and the health and availability of these habitats are crucial to their breeding success. When this system is unable to support healthy populations…

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Why don’t Southern Resident killer whales eat something other than salmon?

The Southern Resident killer whales are fish specialists, and while they can eat a variety of fish, the majority of their diet is salmon, primarily Chinook as it is the fattiest and largest, and so provides the best bang for the buck. This unique…

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