Cindy Garneau

Live.Love.Laugh.Sing.

The Family Life of an Orca.

Killer whales live in tight-knit families, similar to other highly intelligent and long-lived animals, such as elephants, wolves and humans. Off the Northeastern Pacific coast, we have two resident populations of orca, the Northern and the Southern Residents. Although the two populations do not associate with each other, the structure of their families is very much the same.
Resident orca live in large family groups called pods, with multiple pods making up a population or community. The pods consist of multiple related matrilines, with each matriline often containing 3 or more generations. Each pod is led by the head female or matriach, as orca are a female dominated species (just like humans, right guys?!) The matriarch tends to be the oldest female in the extended family. Her experience and knowledge guides the pod, and the matriach teaches younger whales about everything from parenting skills, feeding tactics, and navigation through the vast territories that they cover.
Orca have long life expectancies, 60 to 80 years for females and 40-60 years for the males. Females have the ability to reproduce as early as 14 years of age, but it is more common to see a female first calf at around 17 to 18 years old. Males reach sexual maturity between the ages of 17 and 20, but DNA research has revealed that older males are more successful with the ladies! A fascinating characteristic of orca is that they have the longest gestation period of any whale, averaging 16 to 18 months. This may seem surprising as killer whales are a relatively small whale compared to the big baleen whales, who have gestation periods lasting 11 to 12 months. Why then does such a small whale have such a long gestation period? Well the answer lies in the size of their brain. Orca have the second largest brain to have ever evolved in an animal on Earth (sperm whales have the largest). In order for the unborn orca to develop this large brain, they need more time in utero. Their large brain explains why orca are one of the most intelligent species in the world, with the ability to develop language, culture and sophisticated relationships.
Another sign of how intelligent killer whales are shows in their mating behavior. Orca do not mate within their own family, they prefer to find a mate from another pod. Even though all the whales in one population are distantly related, breeding between pods reduces the negative effects of genetic inbreeding. Contrary to many other whale species, orca do not have a breeding season, mating year round when the opportunity arises. Off the shores of Victoria, the Southern Residents are together much of the time from April until the end of October, so the majority of mating events do occur within this period. Females chose their mate and the males do not fight each other for female attention. A little persistence, a tall dorsal fin, and large pectoral fins go a long way!
The true beauty of this species is demonstrated in the relationship between a mother and her calf. Once a calf is born into a resident pod, they remain in that pod for the rest of their lives, often side-by-side with their mom and siblings. Orca are the only known species in the world where both female and male offspring stay with their mothers and immediate family forever. Calves are always born tail first so that thy do not drown during the birthing process. After emerging from the womb, a close family member possibly an auntie, sister or brother, lifts the calf to the surface for its first breath, giving the mom a moment to rest. It takes alot of energy to deliver a 2.5m, 200kg baby! The new calf begins to nurse immediately and continues to feed on its mothers milk for up to a year. Calves as young as six months start to show interest in catching tasty salmon, ripping off pieces of fish that their mom offers to them. One thing that guests find most shocking about killer whale babies, is that the white parts of their body look peachy- orange in colour. The likely cause of this is that baby orca do not have a thick blubber layer when they are born, so for about the first six months of life, tiny blood vessels are showing through their skin, giving them a peachy complexion. It makes identifying a new calf very easy as a little black and orange torpedo shoots up beside a black and white female!
Female killer whales invest so much time in parenting, that they only have a calf every 4 to 8 years. This makes population growth slow, and recovery from the live capture trade during the 1960ʼs and 1970ʼs for aquariums difficult to overcome. Like humans, female orca go through menopause between their early to mid forties. After their child-bearing years are over, they play an essential role in the pod as secondary caregivers. Orca are very much a species where a community raises a child. All members of a pod help to take care of offspring whether they spend time playing with them, helping feed them, or teaching them valuable life skills.
Now that you know the details of orca families, itʼs story time! If you are not yet convinced that orca have amazing family bonds, this story will definitely change your mind. It exemplifies the ability for these marine mammals to experience feelings of empathy, love and loss while showing us that there is nothing stronger than the bond between a mother and her offspring.
This story has been passed down through the whale watching industry and is one of our favourites to share with guests. Get out your kleenex because it is a tear jerker! It goes a little something like this….
About ten years ago a researcher was out in his small boat observing one of the pods that belong to the Northern Residents off northern Vancouver Island. He soon noticed that a female had just given birth but the calf was stillborn. It is not uncommon for female orca to carry the body of their deceased offspring on their rostrum (what we would call their face), seemingly unable to accept the calf is gone. The researcher went out on his boat everyday and followed the pod. The mother continued to carry around her calf day after day, unable to eat or sleep. Orca need 200 to 300 pounds of food a day, so you can imagine how difficult it was for the mother to continue to carry her calf like this. Unable to hang on to the baby with hands, the mother and close family would dive down to retrieve the body of the calf every time it slipped from the motherʼs face.
On the eighth day of carrying her dead calf around, the pod came to a rocky shoreline at low tide. The pod formed a U-shape around the female and her calf. She slowly raised the calfʼs little body on top of a rock ledge. The pod then all hovered in the water very still as if all saying their final good-byes, cooperatively mourning the loss of a family member they never got to know. To this day, it has been reported that this pod returns to the exact spot where the babyʼs body was laid and they remain there for a length of time, everyone subdued. This is a true example of a motherʼs love and a familyʼs uncompromising support through difficult experiences.
Although this story is sad, it gives us an insight into the nature of these animals. It teaches us that humans are not the only species capable of deep emotions, and reminds us that we need to respect and protect the animals who we share this world with. We still have so much more to learn!

loltias:

It is shown that natural, ocean water provides healing properties to cetaceans. After being in chlorinated water in a concrete box, mentally and physically, cetaceans grow weaker. They do not face the currents and natural flow of their meant to be habitat in captivity; it is about the equivalent to someone never exercising, or walking on a treadmill their entire life. Lack of exercise causes depression, stress, illness, and boredom.
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An argument against the idea of bringing captive cetaceans into ocean water is that they will become sick. Yes, there is a possibility of illness, but everyday we are up against diseases spread through the air, whether you go to school, swimming pools, bathrooms, or anywhere where there are bacteria, (which is EVERYWHERE). Now, this problem is avoided with sea pens. Sea pens allow the animals to adapt and become immune to their new surroundings. If they become ill, they receive medical attention.
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 Illness happens in marine parks, too. People seem to forget that many of the animals become sick due to reasons from being in captivity. This can include illness carried by mosquitos, (the reason this would only be spread in captivity is because the animals drift at the surface so often out of boredom/stress). Pneumonia, a sickness that procaps use to put down the idea of rehabilitation and release since Keiko died from it, is the most commonly spread disease among CAPTIVE orcas. Many have died in captivity from it, as well.
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first post going up on my new instagram 

loltias:

It is shown that natural, ocean water provides healing properties to cetaceans. After being in chlorinated water in a concrete box, mentally and physically, cetaceans grow weaker. They do not face the currents and natural flow of their meant to be habitat in captivity; it is about the equivalent to someone never exercising, or walking on a treadmill their entire life. Lack of exercise causes depression, stress, illness, and boredom.

 -

An argument against the idea of bringing captive cetaceans into ocean water is that they will become sick. Yes, there is a possibility of illness, but everyday we are up against diseases spread through the air, whether you go to school, swimming pools, bathrooms, or anywhere where there are bacteria, (which is EVERYWHERE). Now, this problem is avoided with sea pens. Sea pens allow the animals to adapt and become immune to their new surroundings. If they become ill, they receive medical attention.

-

 Illness happens in marine parks, too. People seem to forget that many of the animals become sick due to reasons from being in captivity. This can include illness carried by mosquitos, (the reason this would only be spread in captivity is because the animals drift at the surface so often out of boredom/stress). Pneumonia, a sickness that procaps use to put down the idea of rehabilitation and release since Keiko died from it, is the most commonly spread disease among CAPTIVE orcas. Many have died in captivity from it, as well.

first post going up on my new instagram 

Regarder "Keiko 2002" sur YouTube

Keiko 2002 : People wanted him to be free! “No more entertainment!” they said. But in the end, even in the wild, he was still an entertainment! People just didn’t realize that he was sick and a few short months later he died because he felt lonely, he let himself die. People wanted Keiko to return to the wild so much that they didn’t think it was the worst choice to make for him. That’s the difference between an Orca that was raised in a Park and a full grown Orca adult put in a park! entertainment and affection from crowd it was all that Keiko knew, he was raised by humans nutured by them, and you expect him to be okay all alone by himself in the ocean? No! It was not okay to put him in there! Full grown adult orcas can be put back in the wild because they were born there they know how to be with pods they know how to hunt for food or how to defend themselves but Keiko did not! How would you react if all your life someone did everything for you and one day they put you in a forrest empty, without anyone, without any knowledge of HOW to do things by yourself ? Think about that before you put an innocent life in a pool for you own god damned entertainment! -Cindy Garneau 2014

nestyanyan:

On to happier thoughts. 

DoFP Beyond the Trailer interview

Lol

MUTANT AND PROUD

saucy-fassy:

Magneto could take your bra off without even touching you…          image

…Just saying…                             image

Hmmmhhm