WHERE DO KILLER WHALES LIVE?




Killer whales are found in all oceans and most seas, but due to their enormous range, numbers and density, distributional estimates are difficult to compare. However, they clearly prefer higher latitudes and coastal areas over pelagic environments. A pelagic zone is any water in a sea or lake that is not close to the bottom or near to the shore.

Scientific surveys have indicated that the highest densities of killer whales (1 per 250 km²)  are found in the northeast Atlantic around the Norwegian coast, in the north Pacific along the Aleutian Islands, the Gulf of Alaska and in the Southern Ocean off much of the coast of Antarctica - see Killer whale range map.

They are considered reasonably commonplace (1 - 2 per 500 km²) in the eastern Pacific along the coasts of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, in the North Atlantic Ocean around Iceland and the Faroe Islands. High densities have also been reported but not quantified in the western North Pacific around the Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, Kuril Islands, Kamchatka and the Commander Islands and in the southern hemisphere off the coasts of South Australia, Patagonia, off the coast of southern Brazil and the tip of southern Africa.

They are reported as seasonally common in the Canadian Arctic, including Baffin Bay between Greenland and Nunavut, and around Tasmania and Macquarie Island. Information for offshore regions and tropical waters is more scarce, but widespread sightings seem to indicate that the killer whale can survive in most water temperatures. There have been sightings, for example, in the Mediterranean, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Indian Ocean around the Seychelles.

Probably the largest population of Killer whales live in Antarctic waters, where they range up to the edge of the pack ice. They are also believed to venture into the denser pack ice much like beluga whales in the Arctic. In contrast, killer whales are seasonal summer visitors to Arctic waters, where they do not approach the ice pack. With the rapid Arctic sea ice decline in the Hudson Strait, their range now extends deep into the northwest Atlantic.

Unfortunately, the migration pattern of the Killer Whales are poorly understood. Each summer, the same individuals appear off the coasts of British Columbia and Washington State, but despite decades of research, where these animals go for the rest of the year remains unknown. Transient pods have been sighted from southern Alaska to central California. Resident killer whales sometimes travel as much as 160 kilometres (100 mi) in a day, but may be seen in a general area for a month or more. Resident killer whale pod ranges vary from 320 to 1,300 kilometres (200 to 810 miles).

Surprisingly, killer whales will occasionally swim into freshwater rivers! In fact they have been documented 100 miles (160 km) up the Columbia River in the United States. They have also been found in the Fraser River in Canada and the Horikawa River in Japan.

For related articles click onto the following links:
WHALE FACTS
WHAT DO BLUE WHALES EAT?
WHAT DO KILLER WHALES EAT?
WHERE DO BLUE WHALES LIVE
WHERE DO KILLER WHALES LIVE?

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