Saturday 22 February 2014

Southern Resident Killer Whales


Southern Resident Killer Whales are the most studied, to help you identify them should you care to go on a fabulous whale watching tour, here they are.
The majority of photographs have been taken on these fabulous tours with the write ups being from Orca Spirit. I cannot take credit for the photographs, I put this together to show you what fabulous things you can see whilst out on a whale watching tour. You will never see long straight fins or orca communicating to each other and behaving like this in their family bonded groups, in and tank in the world.

Orca Spirit Adventures 

Eagle Eye Adventures 

Western Prince Whale and Wildlife Tours 

Kayaking with orca 

or choose a trip from the many listed here 

As of September 2013, the SRKW population totaled 81 individuals ( J Pod = 26, K Pod = 19, L Pod = 36). The size of all three Southern Resident pods was reduced in number from 1965-75 as a result of whale captures for marine park exhibition. At least 13 whales were killed during these captures, while 45 whales were delivered to marine parks around the world. Today, only Lolita (Tokitae) remains alive in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium. Annual SRKW population updates occur on July 1 and December 31 each year.

 The Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW), or Orcas, are actually a large extended family, or clan, comprised of three pods: J, K, and L pods.

Within each pod, families form into sub-pods centered around older females, usually grandmothers or great-grandmothers. Both male and female offspring remain in close association with their mothers for life.

​​Each Southern Resident pod uses a characteristic dialect of calls (sounds) to communicate. Certain calls are common between all three pods. The calls used by the Southern Resident community are unlike the calls used by any other community of killer whales. These calls can travel 10 miles or more under water.

The Southern Resident Killer Whales are frequently seen, from spring through fall, in the protected inshore waters of the Salish Sea. The Salish Sea includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Strait of Georgia, and Puget Sound, and all their connecting channels and adjoining waters, and the waters around and between the San Juan Islands in Washington State and the Gulf Islands in British Columbia.

L pod members - Lolita's family


L-22 Spirit (Female) Born 1971: Spirit is a female whale surrounded by male companions. She is most often seen close to her two sons, Skana (L-79) and Solstice (L89). Spirit also has a brother, Onyx (L-87) who spends most of his time socializing with J-pod whales. Spirit is not likely to have any more offspring, as she has reached the age of menopause for orca, which occurs after a female turns 40. Spirit has a tiny nick out of the back edge of her dorsal fin.


 L-25 Ocean Sun (Female) Born 1928: Ocean Sun is the oldest member of L-pod and the second oldest member of the Southern Resident community. Ocean Sun is a matriarch leader in L-pod. She used to share this title with her good friend Alexis (L-12), until Alexis passed away over the winter of 2011-2012. She has no immediate family living in L-pod as one of her daughters and two grandchildren all passed away in the 1980s. She is the mother of Lolita, the only surviving member of the Southern Resident Community in captivity. There are many efforts to return Lolita to her mother and the rest of her family after 42 years of confinement in the Florida Seaquarium. She can be found spending time with Mega (L-41), Matia (L-77) and Calypso (L-94), all grandchildren of Alexis (L-12). Ocean Sun has a very large and dark opening in her saddlepatch.

L41 - MEGA
 L-41 Mega (Male) Born 1977: Mega is one of the most iconic whales in the Southern Resident population. He also happens to be the largest male out of the 3 pods. Mega has a very tall dorsal fin with 2 nicks out of the back edge, one large nick in the middle, and one closer to the bottom. Mega can be seen swimming with his sisters Matia (L-77) and Calypso (L-94). He lost his grandmother Alexis (L-12) during the winter season of 2011-2012. Mega and his siblings were very close with their grandmother, often seen swimming separate from the rest of L-pod. Ocean Sun (L-25) and Mystery (L-85) also love to be with Mega’s family, so he has a tight-knit circle of friends and family.

 L-47 Marina (Female) Born 1974: Marina has experienced many successes and many losses in her family. She had 2 daughters Moonlight (L-83) and Muncher (L-91) in 1990 and 1995, respectively. She then experienced a series of sad losses, giving birth to calves in 2000, 2002, 2005, and 2008, who all died shortly after birth. Her luck changed in 2010 when Marina gave birth to a son named Mystic (L-115), who is still alive and doing well. Marina became a grandmother in 2007, with the birth of Moonlights son Midnight (L-110). She is always seen very close to her tight-knit family.

L53 - LULU
 L-53 Lulu (Female) Born 1977: Lulu is one of the few females her age who has never been seen with a calf. She lost her mother Canuck (L-7) in the winter of 2010. Even though she does not have any living immediate family, she is a happy whale who loves to display above water behaviors like breaching and tail slapping. She has grown attached to her cousin Racer (L-72) and Racers son Fluke (L-105) since the loss of her mother. DECEASED 2014

L54 - INO
 L-54 Ino (Female) Born 1977: Ino has survived her mother and three siblings. She is the proud mom of three offspring, her youngest born in December of 2010. Her oldest son is Indigo (L-100) and her second son is Coho (L-108). Her newest calf is Keta (L-117), whose sex has yet to be determined. Ino has a soft horseshoe shape within her saddle patch.

 L-55 Nugget (Female) Born 1977: Nugget is the proud mother of 4 living offspring. She has daughters Kasatka (L-82) and Lapis (L-103), a son named Takoda (L-109), and her newest little one, Jade (L-118) was born in the spring of 2011. The sex of this young calf is still unknown. Nugget also has 1 living sibling, Surprise! (L-86), along with several nieces and nephews. Her sister Ophelia (L-27), passed away during the winter of 2011-2012.

 L-72 Racer (Female) Born 1986: Racer has a unique saddlepatch that has a very distinct thin pencil-line running through it, making her one of the easiest whales to identify in the entire population. She was named after Race Rocks where she was initially identified and photographed. Racer had her first calf in 2004, named Fluke (L-105). She sadly lost her second calf in the summer of 2010, which appeared to be stillborn. Racer carried her deceased calf for 2 days not ready to let go. This is not an uncommon behavior of orca to display after the death of an offspring.

 L-77 Matia (Female) Born 1987: Matia is part of the L-12 matriline, named after her grandmother Alexis (L-12), who sadly passed on in the winter of 2011-2012. Matia’s mother and sibling L-64 have also passed away. She spends her time with her brother Mega (L-41) and sister Calypso (L-94). Matia became an auntie for the first time in 2009 to Calypso’s daughter Cousteau (L-113). Unfortunately Matia lost her first calf soon after birth in February, 2010. She has a similar open saddlepatch to her sister, with a noticeable nick out of the trailing edge of her dorsal fin.

L-79 Skana (Male) Born 1989: Skana is another adult male in L-pod. Skanas name comes from the language of the Haida First Nations tribe located on the coast of Northwest British Columbia. The Haida use the word skana for killer whale, which translates to "killer demon" or "supernatural power". He has a younger brother named Solstice (L-89), who he hangs out with the majority of the time. Skana can also be seen swimming alongside his mom, Spirit (L-22).

 L-82 Kasatka (Female) Born 1990: Kasatka is part of a large family in L-pod. Her mother is Nugget (L-55), and her siblings are Lapis (L-103), Takoda (L-109) and L-118, who was born in the spring of 2011. Kasatkas new brother or sister will be named in the summer of 2012. Kasatka is also a mother, having her first calf in the fall of 2010, his name is Finn (L-116). It is not uncommon among orca for mothers and daughters to both have offspring at the same time, as a female orca can reproduce for up to 30 years.

 L83 - Moonlight (Female) Born 1990:  Daughter of Marina L47 and sister to Muncher L91. Moonlight had her first calf, Midnight L110 in 2007, he often spends time with his Auntie Muncher.

 L84 - NYSSA

L-84 Nyssa (Male) Born 1990: Nyssa is one of the many mature males of L-pod. He has lost his mother and his only sibling died shortly after birth. Because Nyssa has no living immediate family, he had taken to Tanya (L-5), who had lost both of her offspring. Unfortunately Tanya did not return with the rest of L-pod in the spring of 2012, therefore we know she has passed away. Orca are very loving animals who will readily accept another whale as their own family. Tanya and Nyssa enjoyed spending time with Ino (L-54) and her three youngsters. Ino probably enjoys the help from Nyssa with all those rambunctious little ones! Nyssa has a bright white saddlepatch with a very black V running through it.

 L-85 Mystery (Male) Born 1991: Mystery has a similar story to pod-mate Nyssa (L-84). He has also lost his mother and has no living immediate relatives. After Mystery’s mother died when he was only 3 years old, his aunt raised him until she passed away in 2005. Mystery then developed a special bond with Alexis (L-12) and her grandchildren. It is not uncommon for orca to "adopt" other members of their pod when family members have passed away. Mystery suffered yet another loss of a mother-like figure when Alexis died during the winter of 2011-2012.

 L-86 Surprise! (Female) Born 1991: Surprise! is the daughter of Sonar (L-4), who passed away in 1996. Researchers gave her the name Surprise! because that is exactly what she was because the last time her mother had a calf, Nugget (L-55), was 14 years previous to Surprise!. She lost her sister Ophelia (L-27), during the winter of 2011-2012. Surprise! had a son in 2005, named Pooka ((L-106). She then gave birth to a daughter (L-112) in January of 2009. She was first given the name Victoria, but was later called Sooke. Sadly, Sooke was found washed up on a Washington Beach in February, 2012. She suffered severe trauma to the head and chest region reportedly caused by underwater explosives and sonar used by Naval activity in close proximity to her and her family.

L87 - ONYX
 L-87 Onyx (Male) Born 1992:  Onyx has a sister Spirit (L-22) and two nephews, Skana (L-79) and Solstice (L-89). He also has a male cousin, Mystery (L-85). Instead of spending time with his sister and male relatives who are all similar in age, Onyx wanted to explore a different pod. After his mother died, he spent a couple years with K-pod. Now, for the past few years, he has been adopted by J-pod. He can often be seen close to Spieden (J-8), who is an old female who has never been seen with any offspring of her own. Resident orca have never been documented leaving their natal pod. Because Onyx lost his mother and had no deeply rooted connection with any other family member, he may have sought a mother- like figure from other females like Spieden. Or maybe he realized that the best access to females is to be with them ALL year round, as he is now a mature male and orca only breed with members of another pod.

 L-88 Wavewalker (Male) Born 1993: Wavewalker is always exciting to spot when L- pod is in the area because he will often be accompanied by his mother Grace (L-2). Wavewalker lost his big brother and best friend, Gaia, (L-78) over the winter months of 2011-2012. This inseparable duo could be spotted very quickly with their distinct saddle patches and playful behavior. Wavewalker’s saddlepatch is very different on the left side than the right side. His saddlepatch on the left has a narrow, black boomerang shape in it, while the right side has a large triangular shape of black nestled in the white area. Wavewalker had a very close relationship with his brother. He continues to stay close by his  mother, Grace, but he likes to venture off when J and K pods are near so that he can meet the ladies!

 L-89 Solstice (Male) Born 1993: Solstice has a little family consisting of his mother Spirit (L-22), and his older brother Skana (L-79). Solstice and Skana are not only brothers, but the best of friends. They have been seen many times playing together with breaches and tail slaps creating thundering sounds across the water. Solstice can be distinguished from his older brother by their different dorsal fins and saddle patches. Solstice has a shorter and wider dorsal fin than Skana, and Solstices Saddle patch is closed while his brothers is open.

 L-90 Ballena (Female) Born 1993: Ballena is a beautiful female whose name means whale in Spanish. She is the daughter of Baba (L-26), and all 3 of her siblings are deceased. She helps her mother watch over her nephew Crewser (L-92) now that his mother is gone. Ballena was noticed lagging behind the pod and having trouble diving and surfacing in the summer and fall of 2011. She may have a medical condition that could be causing these behaviors. Researchers continue to monitor her status and we hope she recovers from whatever is ailing her.

 L-91 Muncher (Male) Born 1995: Muncher is an adolescent female who loves to spend time with her new brother Mystic (L-115). Munchers family has experienced many losses, with the death of 4 younger siblings from 2000 to 2008. All of these calves died shortly after birth. Her mother is Marina (L-47), and her sister is Moonlight (L-83). Muncher became an auntie in 2007 when Moonlight had her son Midnight (L-110).

 L-92 Crewser (Male) Born 1995: Crewser has recently reached the young adult stage and will soon be part of the breeding cohort of the population. Crewsers narrow dorsal fin has a slight curve at the top, making him pretty easy to recognize amongst the other whales. Crewser has a grandmother, Baba (L-26), and his auntie is Ballena (L-90). Like most young males, Crewser likes to breach and play with other whales.

 L-94 Calypso (Female) Born 1995: Calypso is part of the independent L-12 matriline. Her grandmother was Alexis (L-12), who died during the winter months of 2011-2012. Her siblings are brother, Mega (L-41) and sister, Matia (L-77). Ocean Sun (L-25) is a matriarch leader along with Alexis in L-pod, who is often seen traveling with this tight-knit family. Calypso became a mother for the first time to spunky little Cousteau (L-113), a female calf first spotted with her mother in October of 2009.

 L-95 Nigel (Male) Born 1996: Nigel was born a year after pod-mate Crewser (L-92), who has become his partner in crime. Nigel lost his mother at the age of ten, making him the responsibility of his sister Racer (L-72). He can be seen babysitting his nephew Fluke (L-105) from time to time. Because Nigel is a teenage male, he has started to "sprout" a tall dorsal fin which will grow up to 6 feet (1.8m) tall by the time he is in his early twenties.

 L-100 Indigo (Male) Born 2001: Indigo is the first offspring of a steadily growing family. His mother is Ino (L-54) and he has a brother named Coho (L-108) who was born in 2006. Indigos family welcomed a new member in December of 2010 when his mom gave birth to a healthy calf, L-117. The sex of this little whale has yet to be discovered, and he or she will be given a name in the summer of 2012. Indigo has a tiny nick near the top of his dorsal fin, and a very faint swirl in his saddlepatch. DECEASED 2014

 L-103 Lapis (Female) Born 2003: Lapiss name comes from the beautiful gemstone that is a deep blue with golden flecks in it. Lapis is a member of a large family with her mom Nugget (L-55) and her three siblings Kasatka (L-82), Takoda (L-109), and newly born L-118, who has not been named yet. Lapis is a happy whale who loves to play with her siblings and her cousin Pooka (L-106).

 L-105 Fluke (Male) Born 2004: Fluke has an interesting story as researchers were unsure of who his mother was when he was spotted for the first time. After several observations, it was determined that Racer (L-105) is his mom. Fluke has a light grey saddlepatch and a faint black opening in it. Fluke likes to stay close to his mom and play with other whales his age.

 L-106 Pooka (Male) Born 2005: According to the Whale Museums list of whales, Pooka was named after a mythical creature from Celtic folklore who is a shape shifter who most often appears as a black and white horse. Pooka is the son of Surprise! (L-86). His younger sister Sooke (L-112) was found washed up on a Washington beach in February 2012. Pooka and his mother spend most of their time with his two aunts and cousins.


 L-108 Coho (Male) Born 2006: Coho is a member of a happy little family consisting of his mom Ino (L-54), his brother Indigo (L-100), and a new brother or sister, L-117, who was born in December 2010. Coho is always seen close to his new sibling and other family members. He was named after the Coho salmon, a Pacific species of salmon that resident orca eat, though it is not their favorite. Coho has a very light grey saddlepatch compared to other whales.

 L-109 Takoda (Male) Born 2007: Like several other whales in the Southern Resident community, Takodas name comes from a First Nations language. Takoda in Sioux means "friend to everyone", a suitable name for an orca since they are very friendly animals to both each other and other species. Takoda is the son of Nugget (L-55), and he has two sisters, Kasatka (L-82) and Lapis (L-103). At the young age of three Takoda became an uncle to Finn (L-116), who he plays with all the time.

 L-110 Midnight (Male) Born 2007: Midnight was a welcome addition to the L-47 matriline. He is the first offspring of Moonlight (L-83). He also spends time with his Auntie Muncher (L-91). Midnight has a solid saddlepatch and a few long scars on the left-hand side of his back. Like most adolescent whales, Midnight is eager to play any time of the day.

L113 Cousteau
L-113 Cousteau (Female) Born 2009: Cousteau was named after the famous Jacques Cousteau, marine conservationist, explorer, inventor and photographer among many other things. Cousteau explores her environment alongside her mother Calypso (L94), who was given the name of Jacques Cousteaus research boat. Cousteau is a member of the L-12 matriline, being cared for my her great-grandmother Alexis (L-12), her famous Uncle Mega (L-41), and her Auntie Matia (L-77).

 L-115 Mystic (Male) Born 2010: Mystic is the newest offspring of mother Marina (L-47). He has two older sisters named Moonlight (L-83) and Muncher (L-91). Mystic is a welcome blessing to a family who has experienced great hardship. Marina has lost the 4 previous calves before Mystic, all shortly after they were born. Mystic has been an active and healthy whale so far under the extra watchful eye of his mom and siblings. He also gets to play with his nephew Midnight (L-110), who is actually 3 years older.

 L-116 Finn (Male) Born 2010: Finn was born into a large, tight-knit family. Although he is the first offspring of Kasatka (L-82), his family also includes grandmother Nugget (L-55), Auntie Lapis (L-103) and Uncle Takoda (L-109). Finn can be seen wrestling with pod-mates Cousteau (L-113), Mystic (L-115) and unnamed new comers L-117 and L-118.

 L-117 Keta (Unknown Sex) Born 2010: L-117 is the newest calf born to Ino (L-54). Once Keta exposes his or her belly, we will be able to determine its sex by the different shapes of black pigmentation around the genital slits. Keta is well taken care of and entertained by his or her two brothers, Indigo (L-100) and Coho (L-108).

 L-118 Jade (Unknown Sex) Born 2011: Jade is the newest calf of L-pod. We do not know if L-118 is male or female as we are waiting for someone to catch a photo of his or her underside to determine its sex. L-118 has a successful and loving mother named Nugget (L-55). He or she also has two sisters named Kasatka (L-82) and Lapis (L-109), and a big brother named Takoda (L-109). Jade is already an aunt or uncle, as big sister Kasatka had her first calf Finn (L-116) in 2010. Finn (L-116), Keta (L-117), and Jade will likely develop a close bond and be the best of friends in the future.

L120 - new calf. The details of which and the details of Lulu and Indigo missing can be seen here. 


J-2 Granny (Female) Born 1911: Granny is the oldest known orca in the entire world. The average lifespan of female orca is between 60 and 80 years, therefore Granny has surpassed this expectation greatly, turning 102 this year. She is the matriarch leader of J-pod, always guiding the groups movements and activities. Granny is a wealth of knowledge for other family members, and she is active in co-parenting by babysitting and teaching young orca in the family. Granny has no living offspring, but she is the grandmother of Samish (J-14), and a greatgrandmother to 3 other J-pod whales. She became a great, great grandmother in the summer of 2012, when her great granddaughter, Hy’Shqa (J-37) gave birth to her first calf J-49. Granny has a solid saddlepatch and a half-moon nick out of the trailing edge of her dorsal fin.

 J-8 Spieden (Female) Born 1933: Spieden is the second oldest female in J-pod. She has no living relatives, but has become a sudo-mother to Onyx (L-87), a male killer whale from L-pod who fancies traveling with J-pod the past few years. She has a quirky characteristic that makes it easy to know that she is in the area. When Spieden surfaces to breathe, she makes a wheezing-whistling sound from her blowhole. The cause of this sound is not known and does not seem to affect her health as she has made this sound since studies first began on the population in the early 1970s.

J-14 Samish (Female) Born 1974: Samish is the granddaughter of Granny (J-2). Her mother and sister are now deceased. She has had three surviving offspring Hy’Shqa (J-37), Suttles (J-40), and Se Yi-Chn (J-45). She has lost 2 calves over her lifetime. Samish also lost her 17 year old son, Riptide (J-30) during the winter of 2011-2012. Samish became a grandmother in the summer of 2012 when her daughter Hy’Shqa had her first calf, J-49. Samish can be seen traveling with all her offspring, often close to Granny (J-2) and Spieden (J-8).

 J-16 Slick (Female) Born 1972: Slick is an excellent mother who has had a total of 5 offspring. She gave birth to the newest member of the Southern Residents, J-48, who was born on December 17th, 2011. Unfortunately her son Keet (J-33) did not return with J-pod in the summer of 2011, he was 14 years of age. Her other children are Mike(J-26), Alki (J-36), and Echo (J-42). Slick is an active and social whale, usually swimming along with her growing family.

J-17 Princess Angeline (Female) Born 1977: Princess Angeline is another J-pod mother whose own mother and sibling are both deceased. She is not lonely however, as her own children and grandchildren keep her busy! She is the mother of Polaris (J-28), Tahlequah (J-35) and young Moby (J-44). Princess Angeline and her two daughters all had offspring within one year of each other! So this busy family can be seen swimming with 3 active and rambunctious young whales who love to play together.

 J-19 Shachi (Female) Born 1979: Sachi has one living offspring, a daughter born in 2005 named Eclipse (J-41). She is also the Auntie of Blackberry (J-27), Tsuchi (J-31) and Mako (J-39). Sachi has a closed saddlepatch and no nicks in her dorsal fin.

 J-22 Oreo (Female) Born 1985: Oreo is the mother of two boys, Double Stuf (J-34) and Cookie (J-38). These young males stay close to their Mom, often being very playful as they breach and roll around in the water. When Oreos sister Ewok died in 1998, she took over the parental responsibility of her young niece Rhapsody, who was only 2 years old when her mother died.

 J-26 Mike (Male) Born 1991: Mike is a special whale because he was named after the late Michael Bigg, the first biologist who discovered that orca can be individually identified by their unique dorsal fin and saddlepatch. He is the son of Slick (J-16), and brother to Alki (J-36), Echo (J-42), and J-48 who has not yet been named. Mike is the same age as pod-mate Blackberry (J-27). The two now mature males spent lots of time playing together as youngsters and can often still be seen hanging out together. Mike can be identified by his open saddlepatch on both sides of his back.

 J-27 Blackberry (Male) Born 1991: Blackberry is one of the most recognizable male orca in the Southern Resident community. He has a tall dorsal fin with an open saddlepatch on one side that looks like a black swirl in the white area, and an almost closed saddlepatch on the other. Blackberry is a fantastic brother to his sister Tsuchi (J-31) and his little brother Mako (J-39). The mother to these three siblings was named Blossom, who died in 2008. Since Mako was only five years old at the time, Blackberry and Tsuchi had to keep a close eye on their brother. Blackberry is often seen with his siblings, herding Mako in the right direction. Blackberry is also the same age as pod- mate Mike, who he can be seen cruising with from time to time.

 J-28 Polaris (Female) Born 1993: Polaris is a stunning female in J-pod. It is always fun to spot Polaris as she is a fairly new Mom, having her first calf Star (J-46) in 2009. Polaris is easy to pick out because she has a nick out of her dorsal fin, about half way down the trailing edge. She is the oldest offspring of Princess Angeline (J-17), and sister to Tahlequah (J-35) and Moby (J-44). This expanding family is a treat to see as Polaris, her mom, and her sister all had calves within one year. All calves have survived and play together continuously.

J-31 Tsuchi (Female) Born 1994: Now that Tsuchi is 18 years of age, we can expect to see her have her first calf anytime now. She has had a lot of practice parenting as she has been helping her brother Blackberry (J-27)raise their younger brother Mako (J-39), since their mother died in 2008. Tsuchi can be seen socializing with other whales her age, but never far from her younger brother.

 J-32 Rhapsody (Female) Born 1996: Rhapsody is a mature female who has not yet had her first calf. She lost her mother in 1998 and has no siblings. Because orca live in close extended families, she was adopted by her Aunt Oreo (J-22), spending time with her cousins Double Stuf (J-34) and Cookie (J-38). Rhapsody has an unique swirl at the bottom of her saddlepatch.

 J-34 Double Stuf (Male) Born 1998: Double Stuf is a teenage male who will soon start to sprout a tall dorsal fin as he begins to mature into an adult. He is the first son of Oreo (J-22) and brother to Cookie (J-38). Double Stuf is very close to his cousin Rhapsody (J-32), as his family adopted her when her mother passed away.

 J-35 Tahlequah (Female) Born 1998: Tahlequah is a first-time mother, giving birth to her son Notch (J-47) in 2010. She gets to experience motherhood along side her sister Polaris (J-28) and her mother Princess Angeline (J-17), as they all had a calf within one year of each other. The waters are often filled with chatter when this family passes by as three females and three young calves tend to make a lot of noise!

 J-36 Alki (Female) Born 1999: Alki is an active teenager who belongs to a big family. Her mother is Slick (J-16) and her siblings are Mike (J-26), Echo (J-42), and new sibling J-48, born in December of 2011. Alki is often spotted foraging and socializing with her tight-knit family group.

 J-37 Hy’Shqa (Female) Born 2001: Hy’Shqa was named by the Samish First Nation. Her name means blessing or thank you in the coast Salish/Samish language. Hy’Shqa is a member of the J-2 matriline, with Granny (J-2) being her great grandmother and Samish (J-14) is her mother. She also has two brothers, Riptide (J-30), who passed away during the winter of 2011-2012, and Se-Yi-Chn (J-45). She has one sister, Suttles (J-40). Hy’Shqa surprised us all in the summer of 2012, when she was seen with her first calf at the age of eleven. Female orca generally do not have their first calf until they are at least 14 years of age. The majority of females are usually between the ages of 17 and 20 before they enter motherhood. Hy’Shqa and only one other resident orca in the Northern Community have been recorded with a calf at such a young age. With the help of a large extended family, including the experienced and knowledgable Granny, Hy’Shqa and her calf seem to be doing well.

 J-38 Cookie (Male) Born 2003: Cookie may not be the most masculine name for a male orca, but he is definitely a boy! He is an active youngster who enjoys playing with his older brother Double Stuf (J-34) and his cousin Rhapsody (J-32), who is like an adopted sister, as she has been part of the family since before Cookie was born. His mother is Oreo (J-22), who stays close to Cookie much of the time.

J-39 Mako (Male) Born 2003: Mako is an exciting youngster to watch as he seems to like to play most of the time. He loves to swim ahead of his older brother Blackberry (J-27) and his older sister Tsuchi (J-31). Mako is often spotted breaching, tail slapping and spy-hopping as he learns life skills from his siblings. Mako lost his mother Blossom when he was only two years old, so he depends on his siblings to teach and protect him. Despite his rough start in life, he has become a very happy and healthy little whale!


J-40 Suttles (Female) Born 2004: Suttles is still a juvenile whale who enjoys playing with her siblings alot. Like other members of her family, Suttles was named by the Samish First Nation at a traditional potlatch naming ceremony. Her mother is Samish (J-14), who was named after the Samish First Nation. She is the younger sibling of Riptide (J-30) and Hy’Shqa (J-37), and the older sister of little Se-Yi-Chn (J-45). Her older brother Riptide (J-30) passed away in the winter of 2011-2012. Suttles became a young Auntie in the summer of 2012 to J-49, the new calf of her sister Hy’Shqa (J-37).

 J-41 Eclipse (Female) Born 2005: Eclipse is the second offspring born to Shachi (J-19). Her only sibling died the same year it was born. Eclipse was born on Canada Day, July 1st, 2005. Researchers were skeptical about her survival as she was so small when she was born. Thankfully she has grown into a healthy and spunky juvenile. Eclipse stays close to her mother, but also enjoys playing with other whales similar to her age.

 J-42 Echo (Female) Born 2007: Echo is the second youngest offspring born to Slick (J-16). She has two older siblings, Mike (J-26) and Tahlequah (J-36). She became a big sister this past December when her new sibling J-48 was born. Echo will be a great role model and playmate for her new sibling with lots of babysitting in her future!

J-44 Moby (Male) Born 2009: Moby is a playful little whale, with two nieces who are the same age as himself! He is the third calf of Princess Angeline (J-17) and the little brother of Polaris (J-28) and Tahlequah (J-35). Young whales like Moby are very important to the future of this Endangered population.

 J-45 Se-Yi-Chn (Male) Born 2009: Se-Yi-Chn is the sixth offspring of Samish (J-14) and this is why he was given his name by the Samish First Nation, meaning younger sibling. He had a brother named Riptide (J-30), who passed away in the winter of 2011-2012. He has two sisters, Hy’Shqa (J-37) and Suttles (J-40). He became a very young Uncle to his new niece or nephew, J-49, born to his big sister Hy’Shqa (J-37). He loves to spend time with his large family. Se-Yi-Chn was part of a baby boom year, when 5 orca calves were born amongst the three pods.

 J-46 Star (Female) Born 2009: Star is a lively and lovable little whale who can be seen actively playing with her Uncle Moby (J-44) and cousin Notch (J-47), who were all born between January 2009 and January 2010. Star is the first daughter born to Polaris (J-28), who is a social butterfly, so Star gets to meet and play with other members of the community too.

J-47 Notch (Male) Born 2010: Notch got his name from the notch or nick he got in his dorsal fin before his first birthday. He is the first calf born to Tahlequah (J-35). He is often found causing mischief with his cousin Star (J-46) and his Uncle Moby (J-44), who are all close in age.

J-49 Tilem Ingles (Unknown Sex) Born 2012: Little J-49 was the latest addition to Jpod and the Southern Resident Community in the summer of 2012. Until we can get a good view of this calf’s belly, we will not know if J-49 is male or female. J-49’s entry into the world was a major surprise to all who closely watch the Southern Residents. J-49 is the first calf born to Hy’Shqa (J-37), who was only 11 years old when she gave birth to J-49. Only one other orca on British Columbia’s coastline has been recorded having a calf at such a young age. Female orca typically do not start to have offspring until they are at least 14 years old. It is more common to see first-time mothers between the ages of 17 and 20. The birth of J-49 is also special because this little calf makes Granny (J-2), a great, great grandmother!


K-12 Sequim (Female) Born 1972: Sequim is an experienced mother with 3 living and 3 deceased offspring. Her living offspring are Sekiu (K-22), Rainshadow (K-37), and Saturna (K-43). Since Sequim has raised several calves she is a more relaxed mother, allowing her older siblings to babysit young Saturna while she chases down salmon. Sequim and Skagit (K-13) are now the eldest females in K-pod and thus are the matriarch leaders of the group.

 K-13 Skagit (Female) Born 1972: Skagit is the successful and busy mother of 4 K-pod orca whales. She had her first calf Spock (K-20) in 1986, and her last calf Cali (K-34) in 2001. She also has a son named Scoter (K-25) and another daughter named Deadhead (K-27). Now that Skagit is 40 years of age, it is unlikely that she will have any more children as female orca go through menopause similar to humans in their early to mid-forties. She will continue to be a vital part of her offsprings lives, as well as an important senior member of the pod. As Skagit and pod-mate Seqium (K-12) are the oldest females of K-pod, they are the matriarch leaders, guiding all other members in daily activities.

 K-14 Lea (Female) Born 1977: Lea has been a busy orca raising three calves, Lobo (K-26), Yoda (K-36), and Kelp (K-42). Her role as a mother has not come without hardship though, as Lea lost two calves before they were one year old. She is a wonderful mother who spends all of her time close to her offspring. Lea has a small nick out of the trailing edge of her dorsal fin near the top.

 K-16 Opus (Female) Born 1985: Opus can be recognized by her large, solid saddlepatch. She is often seen swimming side-by-side with her son Sonata (K-35), who was born in 2002. Besides her son, the only immediate living relative she has is her sister Lea (K-14). These sisters and their offspring are close, spending a lot of time socializing, hunting and resting together. Opus lost her first calf soon after it was born in the winter of 2000-2001.

 K-20 Spock (Female) Born 1986: Spock is the mother of Comet (K-38), a spunky little male orca. Because it has been 8 years since Comet was born, we hope to see Spock with another calf soon as orca have one calf every 4 to 8 years on average. Spock was the first offspring of Skagit (K-13), and she is a sister to Scoter (K-25), Cali (K-34), and Deadhead (K-27). She became an auntie for the first time in 2011 to K-44, an unnamed male calf.

 K-21 Cappuccino (Male) Born 1986: Cappuccino is a very special member of Kpod, as he was the first mature male in the pod in many, many years. His best friend was his sister Raggedy (K-40), who was not often seen without Cappucino close by. Sadly, his dear sister passed away during the winter of 2011-2012. The two siblings no longer have a mother or any other living brothers or sisters. Cappuccino is very easy to identify as he was a wide-based dorsal fin and a distinct open saddlepatch. He will need to gravitate towards other members of his pod to find companionship like he had with Raggedy.

K-22 Sekiu (Female) Born 1987: Sekiu is the last K-pod whale to be born in the 1980s. She has an only son named Tika (K-33), who was born in 2001. Sekiu and Tika spend most of their time close to Sekius mother Sequim (K-12), and her other offspring Rainshadow (K-37) and Saturna (K-43). Sekiu has a thin whisp of black running through her saddlepatch.

 K-25 Scoter (Male) Born 1991: Scoter is one of two males born to Skagit (K-13). He also has two sisters, Spock (K-20) and Deadhead (K-27). Scoter like all other resident orca will remain close to his mother and siblings for his entire life, but as he reaches maturity, he has been spending more time socializing with whales in his age group.

 K-26 Lobo (Male) Born 1993: Lobo has recently become another adult male of K-pod. He is easy to pick out amongst the other males as his dorsal fin is very narrow compared to others. He also has a very bright white saddlepatch. Lobo was the first calf of Lea (K-14) to survive past infancy. He is the protective big brother of sisters Yoda (K-36) and Kelp (K-42). Lobo has become more independent as he has matured and can be seen socializing with Cappuccino and other whales his age.

 K-27 Deadhead (Female) Born 1994: Deadhead gets her strange name from the band, The Greatful Dead, as she was bon the same year lead singer Jerry Garcia died. Deadhead had her first calf, K-44, who will be named in the summer of 2012 after surviving his first winter. Deadhead is part of a big family, her mother is Skagit (K-13) and her siblings are Scoter (K-25), Spock (K-20), and Cali (K-34).

 K-33 Tika (Male) Born 2001: Tika is a young whale who spends much of his time with his mother Sekiu (K-22) and his grandmother Sequim (K-12). Even though Tika does not have any siblings, he loves to play with his Uncle Rainshadow (K-37), who is actually 2 years younger than Tika!

K-34 Cali (Male) Born 2001: Calis name comes from the Salish First Nation language, meaning heart. He is the youngest offspring of Skagit (K-13), and the brother of Spock (K-20), Scoter (K-25), and Deadhead (K-27). Cali has an open saddlepatch similar in looks to his sister Spocks saddlepatch.

 K-35 Sonata (Male) Born 2002: Sonata is an only child, staying close to his mother Opus (K-16). Because orca are highly social animals, Sonata and his mom are often seen hanging around other matrilines within K-pod. Like his mom, Sonata has a solid saddlepatch, but his is more gray while hers is bright white.

 K-36 Yoda (Female) Born 2003: Yoda is part of a medium sized family and her mother is Lea (K-14). Her two siblings are Lobo (K-26) and Kelp (K-42). Yoda is one of the more social youngsters, often seen playing with other pod-mates her age. Orca often build strong bonds with other whales besides their immediate family, especially whales from the same age group.

 K-37 Rainshadow (Male) Born 2003: Rainshadow is a fantastic whale with a sweet personality. He is the son of Sequim (K-12), and he has one older sister, Sekiu (K-22) and one younger sister, Saturna (K-43). Rainshadow is very attached to his little sister, always paying attention to where she is and spending quality time with her. He has a very light S-shape within his saddlepatch.

 K-38 Comet (Male) Born 2004: Comet is the first and only offspring to mother Spock (K-20). Comet enjoys playing with his Uncles Scoter (K-25) and Cali (K-34), and his auntie, Deadhead (K-27). Comet will likely be a great role model for his new cousin K-44, who was recently born in December 2011.

 K-42 Kelp (Male) Born 2008: Kelp is a very active and social little whale. He was born in a time frame when lots of other calves were also born, giving him many playmates within the population. Kelp is the son of Lea (K-14), and he has two siblings Lobo (K-26) and Yoda (K-36).

 K-43 Saturna (Female) Born 2010: Saturna is the sixth offspring of Sequim (K-12), but only 2 off her siblings are still alive. She is very close to her brother Rainshadow (K-37), who is a protective big brother. Sequim trusts Rainshadow to play with Saturna while she chases salmon for the family to eat. Saturnas older sister Sekiu (K-22) is also a great babysitter, entertaining Saturna with her son Tika (K-33). Saturnas nephew is actually 9 years older than her!

K-44 Ripple (Male) Born 2011: Because K-44 was only born in 2011, he will not be given a common name until he has survived his first winter. He is the first offspring of Deadhead (K-27), who has so far been an attentive mother. K-44 has lots of support from his grandmother Skagit (K-13), his Uncles Scoter (K-25) and Cali (K-34), and his Auntie Spock (K-20). K-44 will love to play with his cousin Comet (K-38), as they grow up side-by-side

Since 1998, 56 orcas have gone missing or have died

It is very rare for an orca to wash ashore mortality is judged from the orca being missing and not returning or being spotted elsewhere

  •  L2 (Grace) Female, born est. 1960; missing Fall, 2012
  • L26 (Baba) Female, born est. 1956; missing Spring, 2013
  • L78 (Gaia) Male, born 1989; missing Summer, 2012
  • K40 (Raggedy) female, born est. 1963; missing Spring, 2012
  • L5 (Tanya) female, born est. 1964; missing Spring, 2012 
  • L12 (Alexis) female, born est. 1933; missing Spring, 2012
  • J30 (Riptide) female, born to J14, 1995; missing Spring, 2012 
  • L112 (Victoria/Sooke) female, born to L86, February, 2009; found dead Feb. 11, 2012 
  • J48 unk., born to J16, December, 2011; missing January, 2012 
  • J1 (Ruffles) Male, born +/- 1951; missing Nov. 2010 
  • L7 (Canuck) Female, born +/- 1961; missing Sept. 2010 
  • J33 (Keet) Male, born 1996; missing August 2010 
  • K11 (Georgia) female, born est. 1933; missing June 2010 
  • L114 unk., born to L77, February, 2010; missing June 2010 
  • L73 (Flash) male, born 1986; missing May 2010 
  • L74 (Saanich) male, born 1986; missing late 2009/early 2010 
  • L57 (Faith) male, born 1977, missing November, 2008 
  • L67, (Splash) female, born 1985, missing September 2008 
  • L111, female, born August 12, 2008; missing late August 2008 
  • J11, (Blossom) female, born +/- 1972; missing July 2008 
  • L21, (Ankh) female (Ankh), born +/- 1950; missing summer 2008 
  • L101, (Aurora )male, born 2002 to L67, her fourth calf; missing summer 2008 
  • K7, (Lummi) female, born +/- 1910, missing spring, 2008. 
  • J43 unk., born to J14 (Samish), her fifth calf, born 11/07; missing April 2008 
  • L104 unk., born to L43 (Jelly Roll), her third calf, born 10/04; missing June, 2007 
  • K41 unk., born to K22 (Sekiu), her second calf, August, 2006 
  • K39 unk., first calf of K28 (Raven), born June, 2006, missing October 21,2006. 
  • K28, (Raven) female, born to K12 in 1994, last seen Sept. 19, 2006, calf K39 born June 6, 2006. 
  • L43, (Jellyroll) female, born ca. 1972, last seen Sept. 2, 2006, mother of three. 
  • L71, (Hugo) male, born to L26 in 1986, missing summer of 2006. 
  • L98, (Luna) male, born to L67 in 1999, died March 10, 2006 in Nootka Sound, BC 
  • K31, male, born to K12 in 1999, her third calf, missing in summer 2005 
  • L32, female, born +/-1955, missing in summer 2005 
  • L107 unk., born to L47 (Marina) in June, 2005, her fifth calf, missing in summer 2005 
  • K18 (Kiska), born +/-1948, missing in December, 2003 
  • L58 (Sparky), born 1980 to L5 (Tanya), missing in June 2003 
  • L3 (Oreana), born +/-1950, missing in June 2003 
  • L102 unk., born to L47 (Marina), her fourth calf, Fall 2002 
  • L60 (Rascal) female, 30, washed up on outer WA coast in May, 2002 
  • K32 calf born 2000, last seen 2000, mother K16 survives 
  • L99 calf born 2000, last seen 2000, mother L47 and 2 older siblings survive 
  • L62 (Cetus) male, 20, last seen 2000, mother L27 survives, 3 younger siblings deceased 
  • L39 (Orcan) male, 25, last seen 2000, mother L2 and 3 younger siblings survive 
  • L11 (Squirty) female, est. 43, last seen 2000, mother of five offspring - 3 surviving 
  • L1 (Oskar) male, est. 41, last seen 2000, one surviving sister L-54 
  • J18 (Everett) male, 23, son of J10, found at Tsawassen, Canada, March 2000 
  • J10 (Tahoma) female, est. 37, last seen 1999 
  • K4 (Morgan) female, est. 66, last seen 1999
  • L97 unk., born to L51, died as infant in Oct. 1999 
  • L51 (Nootka) female, 26 (found at Race Rocks, Canada in Sept. 1999) 
  • J11's calf, unk., died as infant Dec. 1998 
  •  L1 (Oskar) male, est 41, last seen 2000, one surviving sister L-54  
  • L38 (Dylan) male, est. 33, last seen 1998
  • L44 (Leo) male, 24, last seen 1998 
  • K3 (Sounder) female, est. 44, last seen 1998 
  • J20 (Ewok) female, 17, daughter of J10, last seen 1998

1 comment:

  1. Why is it Captive cetaceans?
    None of these orcas are captive.
    They are all SRKW.