The Southern Resident killer whales (also called orcas/Orcinus orca) are a large extended family, or clan, comprised of three pods: J, K, and L pods. Within each pod, families form into sub-pods centered around older females, usually grandmothers or great-grandmothers. Both male and female offspring remain in close association with their mothers for life.
Each Southern Resident pod uses a distinctive dialect of calls (sounds) to communicate. Certain calls are shared between all three pods. The calls used by the Southern Resident community are unlike the calls used by any other community of killer whales. These calls can travel ten miles or more underwater.
From spring through fall, the Southern Resident killer whales are most often seen in the protected inshore waters of the Salish Sea. The Salish Sea includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Strait of Georgia, and Puget Sound, and all their connecting channels and adjoining waters, and the waters around and between the San Juan Islands in Washington State and the Gulf Islands in British Columbia.
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