Orca Vocalization

This page contains informations about the use of echolocation clicks and calls by the orcas. Like for other dolphins, underwater sound is the most important medium for both navigation and communication.


Toothed whales such as killer whales use echolocation clicks to "see" their surroundings. Thus they can locate fish in complete darkness. Air passages located just below the blowhole produce the clicks that are focused by the thick oil in the melon, which can be shaped to form an acoustic lens, so they can direct the clicks toward fish. The lower jaw focuses the echoes that reflect off the fish or other objects to the middle ear bones. These echoes allow the orcas to form an acoustic image in their brain of their surroundings.


Individual orca poulations can be identified by their underwater communication. Following are examples of typical calls for the three pods in the Souhern Resident community.


Note: you will require a sound application capable of reading files in AIFF format to listen to the killer whale calls. If you don't have such software, click the following to:

Please be sure to pay the registration fee if you decide to keep the software!

Click on the spectrums to hear the calls:

  • J Pod
    (File size: 291 KB)
  • K Pod
    (File size: 208 KB)

Home Return to Top of Page Email the Center for Whale Research