Orcas communicate through clicks, calls, and whistles, and put together these form a unique language for a family or an extended community of orcas that doesn’t appear to be used by any others, even when they share the same waters.

The Southern Resident killer whale community has three pods, each with its own dialect, but they also share a set of calls so that when they come together, they can communicate, socialize and mate.

In the Salish Sea, there are two different types of killer whales, each with its own culture. The Southern Residents eat salmon, and this shapes their culture and language. Bigg’s killer whales, aka transients, eat marine mammals and this requires different hunting techniques and so a different language. There’s no evidence that these groups can communicate between each other.

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