Bigg's (Transient) Killer Whales

Previously known as transient killer whales, Bigg’s killer whales were renamed in honour of the late pioneer killer whale researcher Dr. Michael Bigg who discovered at least two types of killer whale that inhabit the coastal waters of British Columbia (B.C.). Bigg’s killer whales roam over large areas of the British Columbia coast and beyond in smaller groups, feeding on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even other whales. Bigg’s have a much looser social structure than resident killer whales and do not usually form large kinship groupings. Learn more about Bigg’s killer whales. 

Most killer whales in the Bigg’s population are named after specific places off the coast of B.C., such as Stanlet (T123A) who was named after Stanley Park in Vancouver, Bigg’s whales in the adoption program are named by the researchers who study these whales.


Bigg’s killer whales do not vocalize or echolocate as much as resident killer whales to avoid detection by their prey. They also engage in conspicuous activities like breaching and playing at the surface less frequently than residents However, Bigg’s often engage in dramatic activity while attacking their prey. Depending on the size of the animal being pursued, they may ram their prey sometimes knocking it into the air, strike it with their tails, or swim on top of it to force it underwater until it drowns.

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