Glossary

  • albino—a person or animal without pigment in their skin, hair and eyes
  • altruism—selfless concern for others
  • anthropocentrism—the belief that humans are the rock stars of all living things
  • anthropodenial—a word invented by animal researcher Frans de Waal that means “a blindness to the humanlike characteristics of other animals or the animal- like characteristics of ourselves.”
  • anthropology—the study of human societies
  • anthropomorphizing—thinking a god, animal or thing has emotions or experiences similar to ours
  • apex predator—a predator at the top of a food chain
  • baleen—a filter-feeding system inside the mouths of baleen whales
  • Bigg’s whales—mammal-eating orcas in the Salish Sea named after Michael Bigg, the Canadian scientist who discovered that there are different types of orcas
  • biosonar—sonar that’s biological—part of an animal’s wiring—and not technological (see echolocation)
  • botanist—someone who makes a scientific study of plants
  • breach—a whale’s leap out of the ocean and into the air
  • cetacean—the Latin word for members of the whale family
  • collagen—protein that holds a body together, like biological glue
  • commercial whaling—catching and killing whales to sell their body parts
  • dialect—a set of calls, or songs in the case of birds, that is unique to areas, populations or social groups. Some scientists prefer the term language.
  • dorsal—the fin on an orca’s back; dorsal means “back”
  • echolocation—the use of sound waves (or sonar) to locate, find or identify something by the way the sound echoes (or bounces) off the target
  • empirical data—information acquired by observation or experimentation
  • food chain—a series of living things that are linked to each other because each feeds on the next
  • geoglyph—an image made of carefully arranged stones
  • gyres—large systems of rotating ocean currents; now often used to refer to swirling islands of plastic waste in the ocean
  • industrial whaling—catching and killing huge numbers of whales to sell their body parts
  • keratin—a strong natural protein that forms hair, nails, hoofs, horns, feathers, etc.
  • matriarchal—led by a matriarch, which in orca society is the oldest female and leader of the pod or pods
  • melanin—pigment that adds color to skin, hair and eyes
  • mirror self-recognition—a test based on the theory that if an animal can recognize itself in the mirror, then it is “self-aware”
  • northern residents—resident orcas who range from Alaska to BC
  • ocean acidification—when ocean water turns acidic—and poisonous—due to chemicals and climate change
  • offshores—orcas in the Pacific Ocean whose primary food is sleeper sharks
  • PCBS—synthetic industrial chemicals toxic to orcas and pretty much everything else on the planet
  • petroglyph—an image drawn or carved into stone
  • pod—a whale community, so named because fishermen used to say whales stayed together “like peas in a pod.”
  • rorqual—any of the large baleen whales that have relatively small heads, short, broad plates of baleen, and deep furrows on the skin
  • saddle patch—the distinct marking on the back of an orca
  • Salish Sea—the waterways in the Pacific Ocean along the coast of southern British Columbia and northern Washington State
  • southern residents—the famous fish-eating orcas who live primarily in the Salish Sea
  • sonar—a method of detecting, locating and determining the speed or size of objects through the use of reflected sound waves
  • spindle neurons—the cells in the brain that process emotions
  • sprouter—a teenage male orca whose dorsal fin has suddenly grown or sprouted
  • spy-hopping—whales or other marine mammals poking their heads out of the water to check out what’s happening on the surface
  • superpod—a large gathering of whales
  • taxonomy—rules scientists use for categorizing living things
  • vocalizations—the sounds an orca makes
  • zooplankton—super-tiny fish like krill that float rather than swim and are the fave food of baleen whales

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