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our orcas

Rambler's Top100
During the years of our studies we have begun to glimpse the close- up lives of many of our orcas, getting to know them as individuals and learning to recognize their habits and peculiarities. Here we will tell you about the orcas of Avacha Gulf: their characters, the events in their lives, the social bonds and interactions we observe in the population.

Oleg — this young and sociable male orca is a member of Winny's group and part of the Avacha acoustic clan. He has five brothers and is often found in Avacha Gulf (southeast Kamchatka) with his family. He is named in honour of Oleg Zherebtsov and Team Russia, who will be sailing in the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race in 2008-2009. We wish Team Russia good luck and that they will travel well and as fast as orcas. The fastest mammals in the sea, orcas have been clocked at 30 knots (34.5 mph). Some kinds of tuna and sailfish may be faster in short bursts but, with their highly effective combination of speed, power and endurance, orcas are usually given that ultimate accolade. We hope that Team Russia will share this accolade. Of course, orcas are also famous for living together harmoniously and hunting in a coordinated way — they provide a good example for every team that wants to succeed and accomplish challenging tasks. GO Team Russia!

Carmen is a young female. We met her family for the first time in 2000. That time the family included 3 animals: adult female, juvenile female Carmen and a calf AV-24. In 2004 Carmen's mother gave birth to another calf, and AV-24 became a juvenile. In 2004 or 2005 Carmen also gave birth to a calf, but it died by 2006. In 2006 Carmen's younger sister AV-24 gave birth to her fist calf.

Hookie the Young is a young male. He is similar to the elder Hookie by the shape of dorsal fin and saddle patch, but belongs to different family and acoustic pod. May be elder Hookie is his father.


Nemo is a juvenile with characteristic dark band on the saddle patch. He is very playful and often comes close to our boat.

His mother Sanchez is always near him. She has a broad scratch crossing her saddle patch.

Businka is a young female. She is identifiable by a tiny notch on the tip of the dorsal fin.

Prizrak ("Ghost") . The family of this female has no adult males. That's why this family is difficult to find and easy to loose, and was named "ghost group".
This female often have gray patches on the skin - probably because of some fungi disease.

Veta and Misha


Stepa, Misha and Veta
Misha is an adult female and Stepa is her son. Stepa is a young male with broad dorsal fin, distinctive from others. Misha possibly had other offspring, but only Stepa survived till 2005. And in 2005 Misha gave birth to a new calf – Veta. Veta knows her elder brother since her birth and spends a lot of time with him. When mother is not close to her, Veta keeps side by side with Stepa. Once we observed that Veta tried to climb up Stepa’s back and take a ride, while Misha was fishing 20-30 meters apart.
Misha, Stepa and Veta are inseparable trio. When we meet Stepa, we know that Misha and Veta are somewhere nearby. By the way, we don’t know yet the sex of Veta.

Brodyaga is and adult male, even-tempered and lonesome. By preliminary observations we suggest that Brodyaga has no close relatives, has no mother. He never comes alone, but always with different groups. Brodyaga often keeps on a distance from others, forages and travels alone. But sometimes he joins compact groups. We hope that by future observations we will discover Brodyaga’s close relatives.

Jeka breaches

Jeka and Vasya
Jeka – a young female – is a miracle creature. We defined her sex because of her habit to breach out of the water. Jeka usually breaches high so we can see the entire genital area. Jeka is usually accompanied by Vasya, a young male. They rest, play and feed together. We don't know their relationships yet. It is possible that Jeka is Vasya's mother, or may be they are two young animals from one matriline or one pod. In 2005 we took biopsy sample from Vasya. But it is totally impossible to take biopsy samle from Jeka. When we approach her, she surfaces behing the boat, and then makes a circle. Jeka smartly leads us by the nose. Once we tried to approach her for three times, and every time she surfaced behind us, then in front of us, then made a circle and breached several times.

Hookie - adult male more than 20 years old. Characteristic features - hooked dorsal fin and open saddle patch. One of the most often encounted orcas

Humpy - juvenile, sex unknown. It has a strange hump on its back. Humpy apparently belongs to the same pod with Hookie

Burkanov - adult male more than 20 years old. It has a small notch on the top of its dorsal fin

Chizh - juvenile, sex unknown. Often comes close to the boat and follows it. Chizh apparently belongs to the same pod with Burkanov