Murie, Olaus J. (1959) FAUNA OF THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS AND ALASKA PENINSULA, 1936-38, U.S. Dept. Interior, Fish & Wildlife Service, Washington. pg. 335

Killer Whale: Orcinus orca
(Grampus rectipinna)

Aleut names: Attu: A'-ga-ghi-ach
Atka: Ah-ga-loh
Aleut (dialect?) : Ag-lyuk (Turner)

In the Atka dialect, the name is very similar to that of the fulmar. The difference appears to be one of syllable length, or stress, which was not possible to record satisfactorily.

The killer whale of the Aleutian district clearly shows the white elongated spot posterior to the eye and the gray patch posterior to the dorsal fin. These marks were noted on every killer whale that we saw closely enough for identification. It is of interest to note Turner's remarks on the killers (1886, p. 198) : The Aleuts speak of the killer as Ag-lyuk; and, to another species, which they recognize, they give the name Um-gu-likh. I have seen what I believe to be 2 species, and perhaps 3 species, of the so-called "killers," swimming together, all moving in the same direction.

Dall (1870, p. 579) lists two killers for Alaska, Orca ater, and Orca rectipinna. We did not obtain the impression of more than one kind of killer whale, but our observations could not be conclusive on that point.

The killer whale is common along Alaska Peninsula and throughout the Aleutians. We found a dead one on Agattu Island. We generally saw them in small groups, or alone, but as many as 25 in a school were recorded. The most common number for a group was three. Ernest P. Walker (unpublished notes) has recorded some large schools of killer whales. On September 16, 1913, in Icy Straits, he saw a school of 500 or more; on July 19, 1915, near Port Armstrong he saw another school of about 300. He quotes Captain Louis L. Lowe to the effect that he had seen schools of 400 to 1,500 off the southwestern end of Kodiak Island, and, in April 1922, he saw a school of about 1,000 off Ugak Island near the Kodiak coast. "They were apparently headed northward and were no doubt keeping close company with the fur seals."

Again, Walker says — Captain Haynes says that on only one occasion has he seen a large school of killers or thrashers. This was early in June near Unimak Island, where he encountered a remarkable assemblage of various whales, seals, and other life feeding and many killers were present. There was a great deal of fighting accompanied by leaping.

Turner (1886, p. 198) reported seeing as many as 150 at one time, in the Aleutians.

Such large aggregation suggest a migration, and, as Walker says, they probably are rare occurrences.

We frequently found killer whales cruising along the borders of kelp beds. On one occasion, a killer passed directly under our dory — a rather disconcerting experience. We obtained no direct evidence of their food habits, but Turner saw a killer whale kill a nearly full-grown sea lion at Bogoslof Island, and, at Tigalda Island, he watched two killers attacking a large finback whale. He had also seen them following schools of smelt, which suggests a diet including fish.