Orca Facts
  • There are two main types of orcas (also known as killer whales) that use the waters of the Salish Sea: transients and residents. These two types don't intermingle or breed with each other.

  • Transient killer whales eat marine mammals and travel in fluid groups of six or fewer animals (although groups of 20 or more have been seen). They stay with their mother until they reach adolescence, but after that they may travel with more distant relatives in the same community. They usually return to their mother's group several times in their lives.

  • Resident killer whales eat fish, with a strong preference for Chinook salmon. Resident orcas travel and live in close family groups, or pods, of 10 to 60 individuals. These pods consist of a female orca, all of her young, and their offspring. Most resident orcas stay in their mother's pod for their whole lives. J, K, and L are the three pods in the Southern Resident Killer Whale community.

  • Individual whales can be identified by the unique pattern on the saddle patch behind the dorsal fin on their back.

  • Orcas are marine mammals. They breathe air, are warm blooded, give birth to live babies, and get all of their water from the food they eat.

  • Adult females weigh up to 8,000 pounds and are up to 25 feet long. Adult males weigh up to 12,000 pounds and reach up to 30 feet long. An orca calf is 8 feet long and 350 pounds at birth.

  • An adult male can have a dorsal fin up to 6 feet tall.

  • On average, males live into their 30's and females into their 50's. Both males and females have been known to live 20-40 years longer than average.

  • Females begin to give birth around the age of 13 and usually have a calf every 3 years.

  • Orcas can reach a top speed of 31 miles per hour. This is most likely while they are hunting.

  • Orcas are the largest member of the dolphin family and are found in all the oceans of the world.