What are the migratory patterns of Orcas in the Pacific Northwest? Do the pass by Vancouver in the Fall?

I know you can never predict the sightings of a wild creature, but I was wondering what the migratory patterns of orca pods are in October in the Pacific Northwest, and what the possibilities are that they may be passing through Vancouver?

How large is the population of the migratory orca pods passing in the fall (if one can even know that)?


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    $\begingroup$ I think this question would be better on-topic on Travel(travel.stackexchange.com). $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Oct 4 '16 at 23:47
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    $\begingroup$ You can see orcas around Vancouver (and Vancouver island) between from March to October. So yes, you should still have good luck of seeing an orca in October. While you can sometimes see orcas directly from the city, this is quite rare. The easiest to go on one of the many whale watching trip. Many of them are based on the island (from Victoria for example). $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Oct 4 '16 at 23:49

There are three ecotypes of orcas which are all members of the same species but tend to display different behaviours, communicate differently and have different prey preference. The most common ecotype near Vancouver are the Resident Orcas, specifically the Southern Resident Orca population. This population is comprised of the J-pod, K-pod and L-pod. These populations feed mainly on salmon which as scarce in the Salish Sea during the winter. Therefore, resident orcas tend to disperse in search of food during winter months in the as far north as Alaska and as far south as Califorina.

As salmon travel to the ocean from inland rivers for food during the summer, the Southern Resident Orcas return to the Salish Sea to feed. By October, many salmon return to their natal stream to spawn and therefore, the abundance of prey for the Southern Resident Orcas depletes. During this time, orcas will begin to disperse North and Southward in search of more abundant prey but some will linger to feed on the salmon late for spawning.

If you're interested in more information about this population, check out Orcas of the Salish Sea


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