Blackfish is the Indigenous name given to these highly social and sentient beauties who grace our oceans. There are many subgroups of orcas, but basically they can be classified as resident or transient. Resident pods and families feed primarily on fish, while transient pods and family groups feed on large marine mammals, including whales, seals, dolphins, and sharks. Residents and transients do not interact with each other and are very different in their social behavior toward other marine creatures.
This resident mom and calf were photographed in the Puget Sound, near the Tacoma Narrows bridge in Washington State. Many resident orcas in this area are struggling to get enough food due to problems with their favorite food, Chinook salmon and are often observed by scientists as being under weight.
Another issue these majestic animals face is captivity. These animals are not suited to a life in concrete pens where they are not able to feel the currents of the ocean. Many of the animals unfortunate enough to be in captivity are forced fed, have extensive medical conditions due to their environment and suffer isolated and lonely lives leading to aggressive behavior and suicidal tendencies.
Original photograph by Mike Charest.