Transient Orcas of the Pacific Northwest

Periodically in the waters around Vancouver Island there were seen a few killer whales that have different behaviors from the residents. They travelled in smaller groups and were not abundant at any time of the year.

They received the name transient because it was first speculated that perhaps these whales were social outcasts in transit to other locations.

The transient community is:

  1. A total population of only 170 killer whales although this may not represent the true population size because many years may pass between resightings of individuals.
  2. Comprised of 14 pods:E,F,M,O,N,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,X,Y,Z

Characteristics of Transient Pods:

  1. Transient pods contain 1-7 individuals, in average between 3 and 4.
  2. Transients are rarely seen and when they are seen, they appear to be present in about the same numbers throughout the year.
  3. Transient pods travel 250 miles/day and have a total range probably over 900 miles.
  4. Transients enter small bays not visited by residents and they often change directions suddenly even when not foraging.
  5. Transient pods eat warm-blooded marine mammals primarily:pinnipeds( seals, sea lions,and walruses) and cetaceans(dolphins, porpoises, and larger whales).
  6. Transient pods vocalize less than resident pods especially when foraging for food and the dialects of transients are made up of 3-4 calls.
    1. Transients have a fairly regular dive pattern of 3-4 short dives of about 15 seconds followed by longer dives of 5 to 15 minutes or more.
    2. The physical appearance of transients is different than residents. The transients' dorsal fin tip is often pointed and positioned in the center between the front and rear insertions of the fin. The saddle patch of transients is always closed showing the uniform gray coloration.

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