As such, it has become apparent that these 'lords of the sea' are more than capable of distinguishing the threat of capture or potential harm from that of simple observation. The future of the orca, and whales in general, can be determined by the careful examination of their behavior. Whale researchers and scientists have long believed and now conclude that whales are, in fact, highly intelligent communicators. These magnificent mammals are able to readily distinguish between individual pod members, objects and other fish or mammals that inhabit their environment.
Every orca pod has it's own unique dialect (or language) and there are several different, yet distantly related races of killer whale in our oceans. These differing killer whales are known as 'resident', 'transient' or 'offshore' whales, capable of communicating with and distinguishing one another over a distance.
These differing races are identifiable in many ways, but mainly by unique saddle patches, dorsal fin markings, feeding patterns or other obvious unique group dynamics. Some orca species are strictly fish eaters, and others are consumers of mammals and other varieties of sea life). Killer whales are capable of swimming long distances and diving to great depths with ease. They enjoy playfully performing natural activities such as spy hopping (bobbing with their heads slightly above water), breaching, and tail or fin slapping.
The average lifespan of whales varies, and little is known about their natural mortality. One of the southern resident whales, for example, is estimated to be ninety-plus years of age, somewhat similar to that of a human being. Almost every resident whale, and a great majority of transient whales, has been photo-identified, some since birth. Resident killer whales remain with their mothers for life and have very close-knit families within their pods.