Other orcas will kill them, but dolphins can tell the difference. ??
Killer whales are commonly seen in British Columbia waters, but other sea creatures usually keep their distance from them.
With impressive speed, expert hunting instincts and a frightening size, they have no natural predators. Like wolves, sea giants travel in packs and communicate through sophisticated vocalizations.
But southern resident killer whales attract the attention of a much smaller, but no less agile, marine dweller.
Pacific white-sided dolphins often swim and play with locals, but avoid contact with others.
Professor Andrew Trites, director of the University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit, says Vancouver is awesome that dolphins know which populations of killer whales are safe swimming companions and which should be avoided – and that they can also tell the difference at great distances.
“We sometimes find white-sided dolphins interacting with resident killer whales,” he explains. “We are often confused. Are they there just harassing them? [Are they] ride them with a bow? Because they always seem so playful … maybe they’re trying to steal some food.
“It’s a pretty cool thing because they don’t play with passing killer whales… because if they did, they would become a dinner party,” he said with a smile. “For some reason, white-sided dolphins are able to tell the difference.”
There are probably several reasons why white-sided dolphins are able to tell the difference, Trites notes. “One is that resident killer whales have very distinct calls and they tend to be very talkative.”
Dolphins can recognize the “friendly call” while passing orcas tend to be “really quiet” until they kill something. Then they have “something to brag about.”
Southern resident killer whales mainly feast on chinook salmon, while visiting killer whales eat just about everything from sharks to seals to whales and more.
Would a killer whale attack a fallen human?
Although they can be dangerous, there is no record of them harming people in the wild.
“When a whale approaches, [you] will feel threatened by them, “he notes.” But there is no indication that they have ever caused harm to people … and dolphins in the same way. ”
Nonetheless, Trites adds that he “wouldn’t go in the water with one,” even though he was one of the fish eaters. “I will get out as fast as I can.”
Sometimes even resident killer whales will play with things, he notes. And they’re not really sweet.
“They’ll grab a bird’s legs and pull it down and eventually drown it,” he says. “They can play very rough.”
Sea giants are often confused with whales due to their popular nicknames and size. However, they are part of the Delphinidae family of mammals, which includes well-known oceanic dolphins such as bottlenose and common dolphins, as well as lesser-known species like the rare Hector’s small dolphins.
Take a look at killer whales and dolphins swimming together.