Thursday, June 5, 2014

Skype With A Scientist!

Today, we were lucky enough to Skype with Carla, a research scientist with the Vancouver Aquarium

She works with the Cetacean Research Program.

We used our time with her to continue our learning about orcas in our area and beyond. This has been an extension of all the things we learned about salmon through the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association as well as our studies in science about the ocean. 

Did you know that there are killer whales they found who eat sharks almost exclusively? 

Did you know that Southern Residents (the orcas who spend most of their time near the San Juan Islands) eat almost exclusively salmon? This is one of the many reasons why it's so important for us to protect salmon and try to increase their numbers. 

One of the many questions our students had was "are there orcas all over the world?" This poster shows all the different species of killer whales around the world. Isn't it fantastic? 

Here is a map from the American Cetacean Society showing the worldwide range of orcas.  

Carla, thank you for spending so much time with us, sharing your knowledge, and answering our questions! 


  1. By Silas
    What I Learned About orcas
    I learned that there are dozens of orca pods in the whole world like j pod k pod and l pod.
    I also learned that they evolved from the mammals known as hippopotamuses.
    On top of that I learned that orcas are not whales they are dolphins because of how they swim and how they appear.
    The last thing I learned is that the white thing on their back is called a settle pack

  2. What I Learned About Orca Whales
    What I learned about Orca Whales is that they can be tamed if you help them. Local Orca Whales eat mostly Chinook salmon. Orca adults will teach their young how to hunt
    From, Eli

  3. What I Learned About Orca Whales
    I have learned Orcas are mammals and the transients will eat other mammals like seals. The local Orcas only eat salmon and sometimes a few other fish. I have learned that some transients will eat great white sharks by head butting them on their backs, then Dinner.
    From, Benjamin

  4. Dear 4th grade,
    It was so cool to Skype with Clara! It was amazing to learn even more about Orca Whales. Do Orca Whales eat them own self’s?
    Sincerely, Annabella

  5. What I Learned About Orcas
    By Sam
    I learned that twin whales don’t happen very often. It certainly doesn’t happen as much as it does with humans. My favorite thing I learned is how the whales travel in pods. That was interesting to me. Also I learned that no one knows how whales were first formed- It could have happened by hippos spending more time in the water, and evolving over many years into a creature with no legs!

  6. Dear Jenny,
    I like how took the time took the time to teach us.
    I also like how she explained everything to us. I learned that orcas evolved from hippos. I also learned that orcas don’t have baling. I would just like to say thank you for all that you have done.
    By Alondra

  7. What I learned in Skype

    I like how the Whales work together to get their food.
    I also liked learning about how many groups there are all over the world.

    From Vanessa

  8. Orcas

    One thing I learned Is that Orcas are Dolphins. Some Orcas like to eat sharks more than salmon we know they live off the coast of Vancouver Island. Some orcas have dull teeth from eating shark skin. Some are albino orcas.
    By: Jaymeson

  9. What I learned

    I learned that a mom orca whales have never given birth to twins and those orcas eat mammals and sharks. And that there are transited orcas and residents. And that there are many different types orcas in our area are Apod-Jpod. And a white orca was spotted.
    By: Charlie

  10. What Miranda Learned About Whales
    This year I have learned much about Orca Whales during our Skypes, but in my opinion the most interesting question and answer was what Orca Whales evolved from. Apparently they started looking somewhat like hippos that swam a lot and basically after probably a few centuries, their legs “fell off”.

  11. Killer Whales
    One thing that I learned is that there is such thing as an Albino Killer Whale. Another thing that I have learned is that Killer Whales are actually just a type of dolphins.

    From, Tim.

  12. Whales
    I learned a lot about whales and how scientists can tell if it is a female or male whale. Also that there are lots more pods than J, K, and L pod. I learned that 80% of a whale’s diet is Chinook salmon. Other whale come here but is a transient not residents.

  13. Dear 4th grade,
    I learned a lot of names of the whales in J, K, and L pods. I also learned that there is albino orca. That is awesome. I learned that orcas in different places are different. Also I learned that the male orca whale has an hour glass shape at its belly. For females they have an oval shape. Thank you for teahing me a lot about orcas.
    Sincerely, Maximus

  14. Dear fourth grade,
    I have learned so much about whales this year. I have learned that the orcas that live in our area belong in the J, K, and L pods in the ocean. I have also learned that 80% of the whale’s diet is Chinook salmon which are also known as King salmon. The other 20% of their diet is still trying to be figured out. We have also learned that the oldest orca in our ocean is 103 years old. The gender of this whale is female and her name is Granny. She belongs to the J2 pod. The killer whales in our area are called Residents. Other killer whales are called Transient whales. To tell all of these whales apart they identify them with marks called saddle patches. Every saddle patch for every whale is unique. They have little markings on each of them to tell them apart. I have had lots of fun learning about the killer whales.
    Sincerely, Amaya.

  15. Dear Carla,
    I learned a lot about orcas thanks to you and Mr. Pahl! I learned that the orcas near us are J, K, and L pods. There are other orcas here that are called Transients. Transients eat mostly marine mammals.Thank you for everything.

  16. Dear Carla,

    I've learned so much about orcas. Like how some orcas can eat sharks by flipping the shark and putting the shark in a trans! The pods near us are J,K, and L pod. Some orcas diet is 80% salmon. Other orcas eat: fish, sharks, seals, and even whale calfs.

    From, Mike

  17. I have learned a lot about orcas since I have been learning about them. Like I learned what baleen is .Oh ya thank you for telling us more about orcas!

  18. Dear 4th grade,
    I have learned that killer whales cannot give birth to twin orcas. I also learned that there are over 100 pods in the world! Also the Orcas that eat sharks end up with dull teeth because the shark’s skin is like sand paper. Lastly I learned that even orcas that are the age of Granny (who is 103 years old) are able to swim all the way down to Monterey bay in California.



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