Resident Orcas of the Pacific Northwest

The resident killer whales around Vancouver Island are comprised of two communities:

  • Northern Resident Community
    • range extends from about mid Vancouver Island north to the southeast tip of Alaska.
    • total populatoin as of 1997 is 200.
    • compromised of 9 pods: A,B,C,D,G,H,I,R,W.
  • Southern Resident Community
    • range extends from the southern borders of the northern community into southern Puget Sound, around southern Vancouver Island, and down the west coast of Washington State to about Grays Harbor
    • total population as of 1998 is 89.
    • comprised of three pods: J,K,L.

Characteristics of the Resident Pods around Vancouver Island include:

  1. Resident pods contain 5 to 50 individuals.
  2. Resident pods are seen commonly during May-October and some residents pods are seen throughout the year in the inland waters around Vancouver Island .
  3. Resident pods travel about 100 miles every day and have a total range of about 500 miles.
  4. The travel pattern of residents is that they tend to travel along predictable routes, generally headland to headland along the shore and seldom change direction unless they are in pursuit of prey.
  5. Resident pods eat cold blooded animals primarily salmon.
  6. Resident pods vocalize more than transients and have dialects of 5-15 calls.
  7. Residents have a fairly regular dive pattern of 3 to 4 short dives of about 15 seconds, followed by a longer 3-4 minute dive.
  8. The physical appearance of residents is different from transients. The dorsal fin tip of residents tends to be rounded and positioned over the rear insertion of the fin to the back and the front edge of the fin tends to be straight or curved slightly back. The saddle patch of residents can be closed, showing uniform gray coloration or open, showing various amounts of black.

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