The Northern resident orca we view on tour from Grizzly Bear Lodge live in large family groups called pods, with multiple pods making up a population or community. The pods consist of related matrilines, with each matriline often containing 3 or more generations. The head female or matriarch leads each pod, as orca is a female dominated species. The matriarch tends to be the oldest female in the extended family. Her experience and knowledge guides the pod, and the matriarch teaches younger whales about everything from parenting skills, feeding tactics, and navigation through the vast territories that they cover. The pods in our area may be as small as three orca or more than fifteen.
A killer whale pod often forms a tight group or reatline while traveling, and their breathing and movements will synchronize. Taking several breaths at the surface they submerge for a period of time before surfacing again. The time spent submerged increases as the “sleep” becomes deeper, and they may take up to ten breaths near the surface before submerging for as long as ten minutes.
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