Subject: Re: Orcas

Robert Kenney (
Thu, 13 Nov 97 09:51:08 EST

At 17:58 11/12/97 -0800, you wrote:
>Hello, My name is Erin Knipstrom.  I was on a tour this summer and saw
>orcas for the first time.  

That's puts you one ahead of me - I still have never seen killer whales
except in a tank at an aquarium.

>I was watching them and on more than one
>occasion the males swam ahead while the females and juveniles stayed
>back.  I noticed there were many boats ahead whenever the males swam
>ahead.  It seemed to me that the females and juveniles only swam back
>with the males when they were called for.  By called for I mean the
>males would start vocalizing.  

How do you know they were vocalizing?  Did you have a hydrophone in the
water to listen?  And how did you know which whales were making any sounds
which might have been heard?

>My question is do the males protect the
>females and juveniles whenever they fear something ahead or behind?  And
>if so do they call for them when it is safe?

The short answer is I don't know - I've never done research on orcas.  The
idea makes sense - it's what a scientist would call a reasonable hypothesis.
In some other social mammals (like baboons), males stay on the edge of the
troop to protect the young ones.  If I were you, I'd go to the library and
look for a book on killer whale biology, and see what the real experts have
to say about it.

Dr. Bob

 | Robert D. Kenney, Ph.D.      |
 | University of Rhode Island          ('gsosunONE' not 'gsosunELL') |
 | Graduate School of Oceanography                                   |
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