In the waters of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands there are two different types of orca whales: mammal-eating orcas the Chinook salmon- eating orcas called Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW). Mammal-eating orcas are most commonly seen in the area, as their population is thriving with ample food supply and the ability to travel long distances to hunt.

Mammal-eating orcasin the Puget Sound travel between Alaska and the mid-Californian coast in small pods, usually between one and seven whales. They feed primarily on marine mammals such as seals and sea lions but will also form large temporary pods in order to attack other species of whales like the gray or minke. There is no socializing, interaction or breeding between mammal-eating and salmon-eating orcas.

The salmon-eating SRKW orca whales exist and travel as members of three distinct pods: J, K and L pods. The species is currently endangered, primarily due to lack of their primary food source in the Salish Sea: Chinook salmon.. As worldwide leaders in whale protection, research, conservation and education, we encourage you to visit the following organizations and consider support of local whale and sealife conservation efforts to protect and help restore salmon habitats for SRKW.

Pacific Whale Watching Association
Center for Whale Research
The Whale Museum
Long Live the Kings