Tofino Wildlife Vol. 5 The Orca

Over the coming weeks West Coast Aquatic Safaris will present a compilation of information on the wildlife of the Pacific Rim as well as some of the flora and fauna. Today we will begin a look at the Orca Whale.

The Orca whale, also known as the “Killer whale” is often thought of as the lion that controls the sea. Traveling in pods of 3 to 25, each pod has a distinctive noise that all members of the pod can recognize from a distance. Male Orcas tend to be much larger then the females, females thought to live for about 50 years and males for about 30 years.  Females have smaller, curved dorsal fins. Male dorsal fins can grow 1.8m (6ft) tall! Another was to identify the Orca is by the saddle patch. The saddle patch is located behind the dorsal fin. These saddle patches are unique to each individual whale.

Orcas can be found in every ocean, this makes them the most widespread of all whales! In the past, Orcas have been hunted and introduced to the aquarium trade.

Their are 3 types of Orcas found off our coast. The first is the Transient Orca, this is the type you may see on some of our tours!

Transient Orcas are larger and have taller, straighter dorsal fins. They live in smaller pods of 1-7 individuals who may, or may not be related. Transient Orcas only eat marine mammals, and tend not to be very vocal. They can also dive for up to 15 minutes!

Second is the resident Orca. Resident Orcas feed mainly on fish, and live in very complex family groups from 5-50 whales! Resident Orcas rarely dive for more then 4 minutes and tend to be very vocal.

Last is the Offshore Orca. The Offshore Orca resembles the resident Orca but lives much farther out at sea. Offshore Orcas appear to be shorter then the Transient & Resident Orcas and travel in pods of up to 60 animals!

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