The common name for orca is killer whale or black fish and more recently wolves of the sea. Males typically range from 6 to 8 metres (20–26 ft) long and weigh in excess of 6 tonnes. Females are smaller, generally ranging from 5 to 7 metres (16–23 ft) and weighing about 3 to 4 tonnes. The largest male killer whale on record was 9.8 metres (32 ft), weighing over 10 tonnes, while the largest female was 8.5 metres (28 ft), weighing 7.5 tonnes. The male dorsal fin can reach a height of 6 feet, the female half that size at 3 feet. Calves at birth weigh about 180 kilograms (397 lb) and are about 2.4 metres (7.9 ft) long. They can swim at speeds up to and above 30 knots (56km/hr).
The northern coastal waters of BC are the habitat of 3 distinct populations of Orcas: Resident, Transient and Offshores. Though familiar at first sight the life style and social behaviour of these populations are quite distinct from one another. Residents and Transient orcas will not socialize with the other even during the rare occasion they come face to face in the same area. In a few instances we have seen what appears to be a hostile reaction from resident orcas to transients. Please read the following pages dedicated to each population so you may understand for yourself how unique yet familiar their behaviour is to our own. Just like us, it appears that it is the culture of each population that divides this group of whales.