Killer whales have been observed in all oceans and seas of the world. Although reported from tropical and offshore waters, they occur at higher densities in colder and more productive waters, with the greatest densities found at high latitudes. Along the west coast of North America, killer whales occur along the entire Alaskan coast, in British Columbia and Washington inland waters, and along the outer coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. Seasonal and year-round occurrence has been noted for killer whales throughout Alaska and in the intracoastal waterways of British Columbia and Washington State, where pods have been labeled as ‘resident,’ ‘transient,’ and ‘offshore’ based on aspects of morphology, ecology, genetics, acoustics and behavior. Through examination of photographs of individuals recognizable by differences in dorsal fin shape and saddle patch patterns, movements of whales between geographical areas have been documented. For example, Alaskan killer whales have been observed in British Columbia, Washington and California. When born, killer whales are 2.1 to 2.4 m long and weigh up to 180 kg; by the time they are adults, males are 9.5 m and weigh at least 8 tons, and females are 7 m long and weigh up to 4 tons.
- MATKIN, C. O., J. W. DURBAN, E. L. SAULITIS, R. D. ANDREWS, J. M. STRALEY, D. R. MATKIN, and G. M. ELLIS.
2012. Contrasting abundance and residency patterns of two sympatric populations of transient killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the northern Gulf of Alaska. Fish. Bull., U.S. 110:143-155. (.pdf, 1.16 MB). Online.
- FOSTER, E. A., D. W. FRANKS, L. J. MORRELL, K. C. BALCOMB, K. M. PARSONS, A. van GINNEKEN, and D. P. CROFT.
2012. Social network correlates of food availability in an endangered population of killer whales, Orcinus orca. Anim. Behav. 83(3):731-736.
- PITMAN, R. L., J. W. DURBAN, M. GREENFELDER, C. GUINET, M. JORGENSEN, P. A. OLSON, J. PLANA, P. TIXIER, and J. R. TOWERS.
2011. Observations of a distinctive morphotype of killer whale (Orcinus orca), type D, from subantarctic waters. Polar Biol. 34:303-306.
- FORD, M. J., M. B. HANSON, J. A. HEMPELMANN, K. L. AYRES, C. K. EMMONS, G. S. SCHORR, R. W. BAIRD, K. C. BALCOMB, S. K. WASSER, K. M. PARSONS, and K. BALCOMB-BARTOK.
2011. Inferred paternity and male reproductive success in a killer whale (Orcinus orca) population. J. Heredity 102:537-553.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Killer Whale publications
- Killer whale (Orcinus orca) Depredation on the Greenland Halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) Longline Fishery in the Sea of Okhotsk
3.22 MB Online.
- How "Resident" are Resident-type Killer Whales in Alaska? New Data Show Similar Widespread Movement Patterns in the Fall
703 KB Online.
- Agent-based Modeling of the Dynamics of Mammal-eating Killer Whales and Their Prey: Not Your Lynx-Hare Cycle
1.94 MB Online.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Killer Whale posters
- AT1 Transient: 2005
- Eastern North Pacific Alaska Resident: 2006 2005
- Eastern North Pacific Northern Resident: 2005 2001 1998
- Eastern North Pacific Offshore: 2003 2000 1999
- Eastern North Pacific Transient: 2000 1999 1998
- Eastern North Pacific Southern Resident: 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999
- Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and Bering Sea Transient: 2006 2005
- Hawaii: 2004 2000
- Northern Gulf of Mexico: 2005 2003 1995
- West Coast Transient: 2005
- Western North Atlantic: 2000 1995