Juneau, Alaska

4 FAQ About Orcas During Whale Watching Tours January 10, 2019

Juneau, Juneau
4 FAQ About Orcas During Whale Watching Tours, Juneau, Alaska

Going on a whale watching tour is a wonderful way to see majestic creatures that live in the waters around Juneau. Along with humpback whales, it is common to come across a pod of orcas during the sightseeing experience. In the event that you do, below are some answers to popular questions guests have about the animals.

Common Whale Watching Tour Questions About Orcas

What do orcas eat?

Although orcas are known to eat anything from smaller fish to larger marine animals—including dolphins, sea lions, seals, or even sharks—they are actually pretty picky. Pods will stick to specific preys and will rarely switch up their diets once they’ve decided on a favorite meal. 

Why are they called “killer” whales?

Orcas are not actually whales, but instead the largest members of the dolphin family. They were given their unique nickname, “whale killers,” by early sailors who saw the animals hunting other large species, including some breeds of whales. Over time, this moniker was flipped to the modern “killer whale.” As a related bonus fun fact, the first word of their Latin name, Orcinus orca, translates to ‘kingdom of the dead’ as a reference to their predatory nature. 

How do they communicate?whale watching tour

Communication is closely related to the type of food orcas hunt. Each pod or family group will have its own unique noises for communicating with one another. These sounds are passed down through the generations. It is believed that, as different pods settled on different prey items in order to avoid competition, these languages developed along with other distinctive characteristics.

Why do you usually see more than one orca?

Outside of sea parks, it’s uncommon to see a lone orca. They are highly social creatures and will exist within pods ranging from five to 30 whales. It’s also not uncommon for pods under the same familial groups to team up. 


If you would like the chance to see orcas up close, contact Big Jim’s Charters, based in Auke Bay, AK, about their whale watching tours. Rates start as low as $150 for a three-hour tour for up to six people. In addition to whales and other wildlife, you’ll get to experience beautiful sights along the Southeast Alaskan coast. To book your tour today, call (866) 244-5467. For pricing information and additional details about fishing and sightseeing charters, visit their website

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