Northern Resident Killer Whales

Feeding exclusively on fish, primarily salmonid species, this population currently numbers at around 300 individuals and is listed as Threatened under the Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA). Northern resident killer whales generally travel in large pods of closely-related individuals within predictable ranges. In the summer, northern residents are most commonly observed in the waters around the northern end of Vancouver Island, and in sheltered inlets along British Columbia’s Central and North coasts. They are sometimes seen in the same areas in winter and in the waters of southeast Alaska. Learn more about resident killer whales.

Most whales in the northern resident population are named after specific places off the coast of British Columbia and within the range of the population. For example, Misty (A62) was names after Misty Pass near northern Vancouver Island. The northern residents are named by the researchers who study the whales.


Northern resident killer whales are the only population known to rub on beach stones. Beach rubbing, as it’s called, is a highly ritualized social behavior that occurs in only a few locations.   The whales become excited as they approach   the rubbing beaches , blow the air out of their lungs so they sink, and scrub their bodies on smooth stones in the shallows.

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