Subject: Re: killer whales

Howard Garrett (
Tue, 27 Apr 1999 17:06:44 -0400 (EDT)

>I'm a student in the graduate film program at Columbia University.  I'm 
>working on a screenplay, which concerns a young woman's obsession with killer 
>whales.  I am most interested in learning some more about their family 
>structures and mating rituals.  As of now, I am aware that they live in a 
>maternal structure called pods.  The question is, do they mate for life, or 
>is that simply the relationships between the mother and the children which is 
>forever?  Anything else you can tell me about family/mating behavior would be 
>most helpful.  Thank you.

        Killer whales do not mate for life. Rather it is the relationships
between mothers and offspring that continue throughout life, at least for
those communities that have been studied so far. Others may show different
patterns. Mating patterns are not well understood and have seldom, if ever,
been observed among killer whales. It is not known if mating takes place
exclusively within communities or occasionally between certain communities.
It is known that mating does not occur between "Residents" and "Transient"
killer whales, which inhabit the same waters, but have completely different
diets, travel patterns, group size, dispersal patterns (there is no
dispersal among Residents) and call systems. I recommend you find the book
"Killer Whales" by Ford, Ellis and Balcomb (1994, UBC Press) for a
discussion of the genealogy and demographics of killer whales of the Eastern
North Pacific (Washington and British Columbia). Or look over the web sites

Howard Garrett
Tokitae Foundation
Lolita Campaign Coordinator
(305) 672-4039

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