Pacific Northwest Wildlife

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Orca Whales

First things first. Orca whales are actually dolphins (the largest member of the dolphin family, in fact) but have been called whales because of their nickname “killer whales.” Orcas live in the waters around Washington’s Puget Sound State and the Gulf Islands in British Columbia, travelling to parts of northern California and southeast Alaska. Orcas of the Pacific Northwest live in three clans, or pods, named J, K, and L pods. Each pod uses unique sounds to communicate, though certain calls are common amongst all three pods. The calls can travel 10 miles or more under water. Orcas are classified as endangered species.

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Stellar or Northern Sea lions

You’ll hear them before you see them—sea lions are known for their roars heard in groups on haul outs. Stellar sea lions are the largest of sea lions with males growing to up to 11 feet long and weighing up to 2,500 pounds and females measuring nine feet long and weighing up to 1,000 pounds. They use their front flippers to move in water and, on land, use their hind flippers for walking.

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Bald Eagles

Eagle eye, indeed. Bald eagles use their keen eyesight to spot fish in the water from over a mile away. Bald eagles then swoop down at speeds up to 100 miles per hour to catch their prey with their sharp talons. Eagles are called opportunistic feeders, eating as both predators and scavengers. They live near water and build nests in tall trees or cliffs. Nests can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.