Subject: Basic Questions About Orcas

Phil Colla (
Wed, 18 Feb 1998 15:55:14 -0800

At 02:19 PM 2/18/98 -0800, you wrote:
>I am doing a science fair project on orcas.
>Mabye you can help me with some of my questions:
>How do orcas communicate?
>What do they sound like?
>How do they hear?
>How is the sound made?
>How do scientists understand orcas?
>If it's possible, could you please send me cassette tape of orcas 
>chatting?  Thank you for your time and help.

Well, it sounds as it you want me to do your project for
you, which I cannot do of course.
Yours are basic and good questions, and are addressed
in a good text about orcas.  I can give you a few ideas, which
may help you if you were to conduct a web search.

Orca communication is similar in many ways to the ways in which
other dolphins communicate -- using clicks, whistles and
echolocation-type sounds.

Kenneth Balcomb is a leading orca researcher.  Perhaps look for papers
by him.

Perhaps search on

Orcinus orca
toothed whales

Some papers that you should look at:

Balcomb, K.C. 1991. Kith and Kin of the Killer Whale. Pacific Discovery

Ford, John K.B., Graeme E. Ellis, and Kenneth C. Balcomb. 1994.  Killer
     The natural history and geneaology of Orcinus orca in British Columbia.
     UBC and University of Washington Press.
Hoyt, Erich. 1990. Orca, the Whale Called Killer. 2nd edition. E.P. Dutton,
New York. 
     Martin, Glen. 1993. Killer Culture. Discover Magazine. 

Here are a few web leads for your project, including two that
have orca vocalizations:


Phil Colla

Phil Colla,
Humpback Whales: