Their scientific name is "Orcinus Orca" but most people know them as "Killer Whales". It was the Romans who initially called them "Orca", a word that meant "demon from hell".
Males can grow up to approx. 32 ft. in length and weigh in at 10 tons while females can grow up to approx. 27 ft. in length and weigh in at 7 tons. Newborn calves are approx. 7 ft. in length and weigh almost 400 lbs. at birth.
In the North Pacific, researchers categorize pods of killer whales into "transient-type" whales and "resident-type" whales, based on physical and behavioral characteristics. The size of "resident" pods varies from as few as 5 to as many as 50 individuals. "Transient" pod size varies between 1 and 7 individuals. "Resident" pods tend to travel within specific ranges while transient pod ranges are unpredictable.
In the Pacific Northwest, there are two communities of "resident" pods: a northern community and a southern community. Food preferences of "resident" and "transient" pods differ. "Resident" pods eat a wide variety of fish and rarely seek out marine mammals. "Transient" pods primarily eat marine mammals i.e. seals, sea lions, walrus, etc and will occasionally eat fish. Research has shown that "resident" pods have a wider sound repertoire than transient pods.
The whales in these photos belong to a "transient" pod ... they were heading South from Victoria Harbour toward Juan de Fuca Strait, enroute I assume to the Pacific Ocean.