If fishing isn’t your favorite pastime, or if you’re just looking for a way to get a bit closer to the incredible wilderness that calls British Columbia home, our Eco Tours are the perfect choice for your next adventure.
From brown bears on the shoreline to dolphins in the water to Bald Eagles far above, there’s a lot to see during your tour. But one of the species that visitors are most excited to catch a glimpse of is orcas.
If you’re eagerly awaiting next summer and your next Eco Tour with Sund’s Lodge, check out these orca facts that you might now know.
1. DON’T CALL THEM WHALES
Thanks to their unfortunate nickname and their size, it’s easy to understand why most people think that Orcas are a species of whales. But while they might be closer in size to Minke Whales, they are actually closer relatives to bottle-nose dolphins. That’s because orcas are actually the largest species of dolphins!
They aren’t the only species of dolphins that are incorrectly called “whales.” Long-finned and short-finned pilot whales also fall into the same category.
2. “KILLER” DOESN’T REFER TO THEIR THREAT TO HUMANS
Another common misconception about orcas is that they pose a threat to humans. While there have been attacks in captivity, there has never been a documented instance of an orca attacking a human in the wild.
In fact, the nickname, “Killer Whale,” began as a different nickname entirely. Sailors once called them “Whale Killers.” That’s because they witnessed the marine animals hunting whales.
Because orcas do not fare well in captivity and may become stressed, leading to them attacking their human handlers, this nickname has changed over time. While you should never try to interact with any marine creatures in their natural habitat, you don’t need to worry about orcas attacking if you do encounter one.
3. ORCAS WILL EAT JUST ABOUT ANYTHING
Those early sailors weren’t imagining things when they thought that they saw orcas hunting other whales. These large creatures are fast and effective hunters, and there isn’t much that they won’t chow down on. They’ll hunt seals, sea lions, penguins, squid, sea turtles, and even sharks and small whales.
4. THEY’RE FOUND IN EVERY OCEAN
British Columbia is a great place to go if you want to catch sight of an orca. Because they prefer colder waters, many places that they are frequently seen are tough to reach, like the Arctic Circle. But the Pacific Northwest is one spot that’s not only easy to visit, but also offers plenty of coastline for orca-spotting.
While you’ll have more luck encountering an orca in British Columbia than most other destinations, the species is actually found in every one of the world’s oceans. There have even been sightings of them in warm weather destinations like the Bahamas, Hawaii, and the Gulf of Mexico, though these sightings are rare.
5. ORCAS HAVE NO NATURAL PREDATORS
Orcas aren’t just at the top of the food chain because they are fast and effective hunters; they also have no natural predators. None of the marine animals that are large enough to hunt orcas are able to or want to. Not even humans have a history of hunting them, mostly because they are so fast and because their bodies don’t offer nearly the amount of oil that hunters know they can get from other species, like the sperm whale.
6. THEY HAVE LONG LIFESPANS
With no natural predators, orcas have very long life spans. In the wild, females can live between 50 and 80 years. Males have a shorter life expectancy, with most living between the ages of 29 and 60 years. But there have been documented instances of orcas living even longer, with one female living to the age of 103! Of course, in captivity, this life expectancy drops significantly.
7. MORE THAN 50,000 CALL OUR OCEANS HOME
Scientists estimate that there are around 50,000 orcas living in the wild today. That includes around 2,500 living in the North Pacific Ocean, where the population is well-studied and documented.
While not endangered, orca populations have seen a number of threats in recent decades. The ongoing effects of global warming and pollution have likely affected their numbers. Isolated incidents do as well. In 1989, for instance, the Exxon Valdez oil spill killed a number of the species from a small band of transient orcas living in the eastern North Pacific.
SET YOUR SIGHTS ON AN ORCA SIGHTING
If you’re dreaming of seeing an orca in the wild yourself, an Eco Tour with Sund’s Lodge is a great way to do so. Taking to the pristine, remote waters of British Columbia, our experienced guides know where to look for this incredible species.
Secure your spot in summer 2021 by booking your Eco Tour today!