Killer Whales are found in all oceans of the world, but nowhere are
they better known than in the coastal waters of British Columbia,
Washington, and southeastern Alaska. Twenty-five years of study in this
region have yielded many surprising discoveries about the natural
history of this species. One of the most remarkable is that two
genetically distinct forms of killer whales reside in these waters.
These whales do not associate and each leads a completely different
lifestyle: residents specialize on a diet of salmon and other fishes,
while transients are hunter of seals, sea lions, porpoises, and even
This book focuses on transient killer whales. Enigmatic and elusive,
these mammal-hunting whales are difficult animals to study. They travel
in small groups, often moving unpredictably, which makes them less
conspicuous than the larger resident pods. For these and other reasons,
our understanding of the life history and ecology of transient killer
whales has lagged behind that of residents.
Transients contains the latest information on the natural
history of transient killer whales, including their feeding habits,
social lives, and distribution patterns. The catalogue section contains
photographs of and notes on over 200 individual whales. Numerous
sidebars contain interesting observations on encounters with transients
as well as information on how and where to best watch them.
John K.B. Ford is former head of marine mammal research at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and an adjunct professor in the Department of Zoology and the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia. He is currently marine mammal biologist at the Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, B.C. Graeme M. Ellis is a marine mammal technician at the Pacific Biological Station, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Nanaimo, B.C. Both authors, along with Kenneth C. Balcomb, wrote Killer Whales, published in 1995 by UBC Press.
Preface and Acknowledgments Natural History of Transient Killer Whales Population Identity, Range and Size Seasonal and Annual Distribution Feeding Habits Social Structure Vocal Behaviour and Dialects Population Parameters Watching Transient Killer Whales Transient Activities and Behaviours Where to find transients Watching transients without disturbing them Catalogue of Transient Killer Whales Determining Community Membership The Naming System Catalogue composition and organization Sex and Year of Birth