Meet the Whales

Each of our wild killer whales has a different story!


How do we know? The killer whales that roam the British Columbia (B.C.) coast have all been individually identified by researchers. Each whale has been identified with a scientific number, adoption name, sex (if known), and year of birth.

In 1973, Canadian scientists began compiling photographs of killer whales off the coast of British Columbia and Washington. By using physical characteristics such as nicks, scars, and the shape of the dorsal fin, it was possible to identify individual whales. This pioneer photo identification program, now an annual event, has enabled scientists to construct detailed family trees for each matriline (family) and pod – all of which are listed as at risk under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in Canada.

You can choose to adopt a whale from the northern resident, southern resident, and Bigg’s (transient) populations.

Click below to find out more about our adoptable wild killer whales and their families:

Meet the Whale NRKW

Northern Residents

Feeding exclusively on fish, this population currently numbers around 300 whales and are listed as Threatened under the Canadian Species at Risk Act. They are commonly observed around northern Vancouver Island, and B.C’s Central and North Coasts.


Southern Residents

This fish-eating population frequents southern Vancouver Island and northern Washington State throughout summer and fall. Currently numbering at less than 80 individuals, the population is listed as Endangered under both the Canadian Species at Risk Act and the U.S.  Endangered Species Act.

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Bigg’s (Transients)

This marine-mammal eating population numbers at over 500 individuals and are listed as Threatened under the Canadian Species at Risk Act. Their range expands all along the western coast of North America, from Alaska to the southern California coast.

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