was named after Ripple Point in Johnstone Strait, is an adult female killer whale born in
1981. Ripple took over as the family's new matriarch when her mother Stripe (A23) died in 2000. Ripple
became a mother herself in 1994 with the birth of her first calf A63, but unfortunately the calf didn't live very long. Her second calf, daughter Midsummer (A69), was born in 1997. In 2009, daughter Midsummer gave birth to Fern (A95), making Ripple a grandmother. Ripple also has a younger brother, Fife (A60). Her older brother, Okisollo (A27), died in 2003. Two other siblings died very young, and a (possible/likely) third, A16, was taken into captivity in 1969, where she's known as Corky. (As stated on other parts of the site. Corky is the Killer Whale featured in our two most popular Killer Whale Clocks, numbers 1 and 2.)
Ripple belongs to the northern resident community of killer whales, which roams the waters off
northern Vancouver Island and the mainland coast as far north as southeast Alaska. There are 16 pods totaling more than 200 whales in the northern resident community of killer whales.
Resident killer whale pods are matriarchal, which means that family groups are structured around
mothers. Sons, along with daughters and their offspring, stay with their mothers throughout their lives. These family units are known as matrilines, and can contain several generations of whales. A typical matriline consists of an older female, or matriarch, and her male and female descendants. Matriline members rarely travel apart for any significant length of time. A larger social unit is a pod, made up of related matrilines, such as sisters, aunts and cousins. These related matrilines may spend some time apart, but still travel more often with their pod relatives than with matrilines from other pods.
Ripple heads of one of four matrilines in a pod known to researchers as A5 pod. It's one of the best
known northern resident pods because it usually spends a great deal of time in Johnstone Strait during the summer. It's not known where these whales go in the winter months, a mystery that researchers are anxious to solve.
One way we've found out so much about the family relationships of killer whales is by listening to the
sounds they make. They communicate with one another through a wide variety of whistles, squeaks and
whines. Researchers have discovered that in resident pods, each whale has the same set of calls, or "dialect", as every other pod member. These language groups, or "clans," are made up of pods with similar dialects. Ripple's pod, A5, belongs to the A-clan, which has 10 pods with related dialects.
Source: Vancouver Aquarium Killer Whale Adoption Program. http://killerwhale.vanaqua.org/