Marine Science Chapters


Killer Whales

Orcinus orca

by Genny Anderson, Biological Sciences Department, Santa Barbara City College
Orcinus orca, commonly called the killer whale, is a member of the group of mammals called cetaceans. The cetaceans are often referred to as "whales" but are really two separate groups - the toothed whales (called the Odontoceti) and the baleen whales (called the Mysticeti). The toothed whales include the sperm whale and the killerwhale, plus all of the dolphins, porpoises, and other species of cetaceans that have teeth.

I salute the naturalist/artist Kelley Balcomb-Bartok who has spent the majority of his life studying the southern community of resident killer whales in the San Juan Islands, Washington State, USA. His father, Kenneth Balcomb, is a prominent whale researcher and was one of the scientists who started the 1976 killer whale research in the San Juan Islands. Kelley was just a young boy when the research began but has been an integral part of it for all these years. He lives and works out of his home on the western side of San Juan Island. Kelley is a trained artist and has created numerous works of art that aid in the dissemination of information relative to the killer whales of the southern community. The picture, below, is Kelley's killer whale mural painted on The Whale Museum at Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington (my husband, and myself are standing in front of the mural with Kelley between us). Kelly was the naturalist on an expedition, in June 2001, that was the basis for this website.

Kelley Balcomb-Bartok, whale naturalist and artist flanked by my husband and myself under Kelly's killer whale muralIntroduction to the Killer Whale

Body Form of the Killer Whale

Feeding of the Killer Whale

Reproduction of the Killer Whale

Outlook for the Killer Whale

 Copyright and Credits
(Revised 6 August 2007)
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