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Infographic: Hear the Orcas Sing

image of Rose Eveleth
The killer whales of Alaska's rapidly dwindling AT1 pod seem to have an ancestry that is genetically distinct from other nearby populations -- and they speak a language entirely their own

Killer whales in the eastern Pacific look a lot alike and are currently classified as a single species. But over the last quarter century, scientists on the Alaska coast have been cataloguing many significant differences between populations, including body type and behavior, that might call for rethinking that classification. (Read "The Woman Who Loves Orcas" from our Spring 2013 issue to learn more.)

One major difference is the way killer whales communicate. The orcas of Alaska's rapidly dwindling AT1 pod seem to have an ancestry (perhaps originating from across the Pacific) that is genetically distinct from other nearby populations -- and they speak a language entirely their own.

Click on MORE PHOTOS to see how the eastern Pacific orca pods are related and hear their songs.

image of Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth is a producer, designer, writer and animator based in Brooklyn. She's got a degree in ecology from U.C. San Diego, and a masters in journalism from NYU. Now, she makes sciencey stuff for places like The New York Times, Scientific America... READ MORE >
We will not stop until we kill it all. Only then will we lament, and only then will we realize that our destiny has always been tied to every other living being on this planet, plant and animal. And only then will we realize that we have killed ourselves. For oil, money and power, what a trade we have made. My heart breaks.