West Coast Wildlife Adventures Victoria and Vancouver Island

Orca Killer Whale Instantaneous Behaviours

  • Aerial Scan - an orca raises its head at an angle starting from a horizontal position
  • Backdive - an orca leaps out of the water and exposes two-thirds or more of its body and then lands on its back
  • Bellyflop - an orca leaps out of the water and exposes two-thirds or more of its body and then lands on its ventral surface
  • Breach - an orca leaps out of the water and exposes two-thirds or more of its body and then lands on its side
  • Burp - an above-surface vocalization that sounds like a whale is "letting gas"
  • Bubble Blowing - the sound that is produced as the orca releases air from its blowhole under water
  • Cartwheel - an orca throws its flukes, caudal peduncle, and rear part of its body from one side to another in at least a 45-degree arc
  • Dorsal Fin Slap - an orca rolls on its side and hits the dorsal fin on the surface of the water with force
  • Fluke Lift - an orca brings its flukes up and down above the water in a fluid motion with no force
  • Fluke Wave - an orca lifts its flukes and part of its caudal peduncle above the water, pauses for at least two seconds, and then brings its flukes down with no force
  • Half Breach - an orca leaps out of the water and exposes only half of its body, landing on its side
  • Inverted Pectoral Slap - while on its back, an orca raises its pectoral flippers straight up and slaps the dorsal surfaces down on the water’s surface. (Many times an inverted pectoral slap is immediately followed by an inverted tail lob)
  • Inverted Taillob - while on its back, an orca raises its flukes above the water’s surface and brings them down with force
  • Kelping - an orca "plays" with seaweed by dragging it on any body part; often it tries to position the seaweed in the notch of its flukes
  • Lunge - an orca breaks the surface of the water with its rostrum, melon and a large part of its body in a charging mode. Many times the lunge has a sideways component, expecially when the orca is chasing something
  • Mating - a male orca actually inserts its penis into the female orca’s genital slit
  • Pectoral Slap - an orca lies on its side, lifts a pectoral flipper, and slaps it on the water’s surface with force
  • Pectoral Wave - an orca lifts a pectoral flipper in the air for at least two seconds and brings it down with no force
  • Rolling - an orca rolls halfway or all the way around in the water, along its longitudinal axis. This behavior is very helpful for researchers to determine the sex of a killer whale
  • Seasnake - the pink male penis which in adult males attains a length of 3-feet
  • Spyhop - an orca raises its head vertically above the water, at least above the eye level, and then slips back below the water’s surface
  • Tactile - an orca coming into physical contact with another orca; for example, caressing one another with their pectoral flippers, or rubbing rostrums
  • Taillob - an orca lifts its tail flukes above the water and brings them down with force
  • Tail Trashing - an orca violently trashes his tail fluke through the surface. Often seen when in pursuit of prey.
     

Orca Killer Whale Prolonged Behaviours

  • Chasing - an orca making sudden movements, including lunges and sudden accelerations; for example, when in pursuit of prey
  • Circling - an orca making "circling" movements, often in the context of a chase
  • Direction Change - an orca changing its direction of travel and proceeding in a new direction; often preceded by milling
  • Feeding - an orca is seen with prey
  • Groups Spread Out - tight groups of orcas separated by distances of 100 yards or more
  • Joined - individual orcas or groups of orcas who have just "joined " with one or more other orcas
  • Logging - an orca rests at the surface exposing its melon, upper back, and part of its dorsal fin for a period of at least ten seconds
  • Loose - individual orcas who are traveling thirty to fifty yards apart
  • Milling - orcas surfacing in constantly varying directions while remaining in the same area
  • Porpoising - orca(s) traveling at high speed with the majority of their bodies breaking the surface and often creating a "V" of spray alongside their bodies. At top speed, an orca can actually rise up to seven feet above the water’s surface and leap 30 to 35 feet horizontally
  • Split - an orca, or a group of orcas, who have moved away from an individual orca, or a group of orcas
  • Spread Out - orcas predominately traveling as individuals who are separated by distances of 100 yards or more
  • Tight - orcas traveling in a group who are almost in physical contact with one another
  • Travel Fast - orca(s) traveling at a speed of more than five knots
  • Travel Medium - orca)s) traveling at a speed of three to five knots
  • Travel Slow - orca(s) traveling at a speed of one to two knots

 

 

Contact Us

Birds of a Feather Marine EcoTours
Vancouver Island
206 Portsmouth Drive
Victoria, BC V9C 1R9

Local: +1 250-391-8889
Toll Free: 1-800-730-4790

email:  charters@marineecotours.com

 

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Help Local WhalesMagical photo of a solitary Orca whale traveling west towards the open Pacific Ocean. The photo was taken by Jeff Lorton, Wildlife Guide.

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