Killer whales are marine mammals which live in all oceans around the world. They live in tight family units, known as "pods". Each pod has their own dialect and certain orca groups have certain techniques of hunting in common.
The Salish Sea Orcas have been studied since the early 1970's and have been split into three extended families. The J, K and L pod. The three pods, overall have just over 80 members, out of which all have been identified and photo catalogued. Making the Salish Sea Orcas the most studied Orca community at the moment.
There have been about 190 identified tranisent Orcas which pass through the Salish Sea. Their typical group consists of 2 to 5 members. All transient orcas along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Mexico are throught to be one, wide, spread extended family.
With over 200 members, British Columbia Orcas consist of many pods of rather a few individuals.
Orcas in Argentina were only identified and named in 1975 and have since appeared on many Wildlife Programs, as they are the only Orcas we are aware of that strand themselves on purpose, in order to catch their pray. The two Orcas which were first named were: Mel and Bernardo, both males.
Japanese Orcas have a very high population, possibly one of over a 1000. The studies have shown that they mainly eat fish and squid. The last Orca capture in Japan took place in 1997. Out of the 5 taken whales, 3 are still surviving.
A lot of the wild caught Orcas, currently surviving in captivity are of Icelandic origin. The captures ended in 1989. Years earlier between 1965 and 1972 Norwegian whalers killed about 300 orcas around Iceland and an undetermined number of others were killed due to the competition with herring fishermen. At the present, there are about 200 poto identified orcas in Iceland, however the population is estimated to be at over 6000 individuals!
This population, has not been studies as much, due to the harsh living conditions these Orcas live in. One of the noticable differene among these whales and others, is their unique, rather large eye patches and colour, due to the algae. They also appear to be smaller in size to your "average" killer whale.
The study of the Russian Orca population began in 1999. The team of mostly Russians along with Erich Hoyt has managed to photo-identify 150 individuals in the area of Kamchatka, eastern coast. Further 100 or so whales have been noticed, some photo identified, some not in the further research of the entire easter coast.
Norwegian killer whale project (NORCA) was established in 1987. The killer whales which visit the coastal waters around the islands of Lofoten and Vesterålen, north of the arctic circle are the ones which are studied. The Norwegian Orca count reaches 600-700 individuals!!!
Orca Research Project has indentified a small number of under 200 individuals in New Zealand. These Orcas have a rather unusual died, which partly consists of rays! New Zealand has one of the highest stranding rates in the world; records show that over 70 orcas have stranded since 1860, and in recent years there has been a stranding every two years on average!!!