Latin Name: Orcinus orca
Other names: Orca, Black & Whites, Killer
How often and when we see them:
Killer Whales or Orca are the main animal we aim to sight on every tour. The chances of sighting Killer Whales does vary depending on the time of year. During the summer period you have the greatest chance of sighting them, which is because of the large and extensive spotting system in place during the summer time. During the winter months, the chances decrease from 100% to about 60-70%, as there are always whales in the local area. However, instead of being 30-50 boats and spotters looking for them, there are two or three boats looking for them, which does make locating them a little bit more challenging. The two types of Orca we see around Southern Vancouver are the Southern Residents and Transients.
Size & Description:
Killer whales have various displays on the surface that are commonly observed. Make no mistake, in the North East Pacific, killer whales are the top, apex predator. They are such efficient hunters that they only spend about 10% of their time hunting, and the rest of their time is set aside for playing, socializing, resting and teaching one another. The basic displays/behaviours you see on the surface of the water include:
- Surfacing - The most common sight. This is seen when they come to the surface to breathe, and is usually followed by a small cloud of mist (exhalation) coming from their blow hole.
- Spy Hopping - This is when they are vertical in the water and their head comes out of the water. They are looking around, most probably at you!
- Breaching - They jump out of the water and their body is exposed momentarily.
- Porpoising - This can be seen when a killer whale or pod is moving at high speeds. When they surface to breathe, the majority of their body comes out of the water.
In the waters that surround the southern part of Vancouver Island there are two different types of killer whales that are frequently sighted.
These two forms do not mix! They also differ in social structure, behaviour and seasonal distribution.
For More Information, we recommend these websites:
Or feel free to email us.