How to Identify Individual Orcas Using Their Dorsal Fin and Saddle Patch

There are two basic kinds of saddle patches:

(1) The closed saddle that is uniformly gray and

(2) The open saddle that has varying amounts of black in the saddle.

Differences in the appearance of the dorsal fin and saddle patch are used to recognize individuals. The dorsal fins of adult females J19(left) and K7(right) differ slightly in shape and the nicks and indentations also vary in shape and location. The shape of the saddle patch, pigmentation detail, and scars are also distinctive.

Notice the very pointed dorsal fin and the closed saddle patch of Q4, a female transient orca.

Notice the rounded, falcate dorsal fin of L2, a resident female of L pod. Also notice her open saddle patch.

Notice the rounded dorsal fin and closed saddle patch with the wispy leading edge of this female offshore orca.

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