Orca, British Columbia, Canada
Orcas, also known as killer whales (Orcinus orca), are the largest members of the dolphin family. These Southern Resident orcas were seen in the Strait of Georgia, near Vancouver. These orcas prefer to eat Chinook salmon, which contrasts with orcas in other locations that specialize in other types of fish, or transient orcas that hunt mammals. There are no known human attacks by orcas in the wild. Orcas use echolocation-sophisticated biological sonar-for hunting and locating objects. Orcas travel in pods and once an orca is born, it will stay with its mother and pod for life, however, mating occurs outside the pod. Each pod has a distinctive dialect with different clicks and whistles. Several new studies suggest that orca calls may include variations that identify each individual by name. Each individual orca can be identified by scientists by the shape of their dorsal fin and by their unique saddle patch-the gray marking behind the dorsal fin. There are three resident pods in the Washington/Vancouver area-the J, K, and L pods. The life span of orcas in the wild is typically 50-80 years.