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Killer Whales
APRIL 2005
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Killer Whales Map
Resident Ranges
Ranges of resident whales stretch some 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) along the Pacific coast. Southern residents hug San Juan Island (inset) in summer and fan out daily into local straits to feed on runs of migrating salmon. Orcas may be gentle or fierce, homebodies or rovers, fish-eaters or mammal hunters. Though killer whales live in every ocean, scientists know most about resident populations along North America's Pacific coast, some of which they've studied for three decades. Less is known about two other local orca types—transients and offshores—because of their less predictable ways. Each type is distinguished by dorsal fin shape, diet, and even language. The animals can live as long as humans, over 90 years, and have five or six offspring in a lifetime.

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