orca research trust


Some New Zealand orca appreciation <3

I believe these pics are split across two encounters I had, one in the beautiful Bay of Islands and the other off the stunning Whangarei coastline.

Both out on Ingrid’s research boat, so all images  © myself (Kate O’Neil) and orcaresearch.org (not to be re-used without permission)


This is Ben, one of the most recognizable of the New Zealand orcas. Years ago he was struck by a boat, the propeller slicing his dorsal fin in half. It was feared that the injury would get infected and kill him, but he miraculously recovered. The front half of the fin still stands up, but the back half collapsed to the left side. This makes him easy to identify, but also serves as a reminder to be careful when boating!

First image from Orca Research Trust, second image from here.

Just added to my etsy shop!

Real-life star of “Free Willy”, depicted with his tell-tale chin spots and unfortunate dorsal fin collapse.

Purchase of this orca gloss necklace also come with optional donation to Orca Research Trust, founded by Dr. Ingrid Visser, expert cetologist involved in the successful release of Keiko.

One of the most fascinating things about orcas is that each population has a different set of diet and hunting behaviors. Some populations eat only fish, while others eat only marine mammals, etc. The New Zealand orcas have a pretty varied diet, but they’re the only known orca population to feed off stingrays. The deadly rays can easily take down an orca, but the intelligent killer whales have figured out how to hunt them with skill and dexterity. (however, this stingray hunting habit means the NZ orcas have the highest rates of stranding out of any orca population, since the hunts often lead them into shallow waters) Orcas pass down hunting knowledge and skills to their young, in a way, almost resembling human culture.

It is for this reason we should work to preserve not only the wild population as a whole, but individual populations as well. Only a few wild orca populations have been well-studied, and if a less-studied population disappears, we’re not just losing orcas in a certain area, we’re losing a totally unique group with it’s own dialect and lifestyle that took generations to develop. Sure, a new group of orcas could potentially move into the area, but for reasons explained, it would still be a big loss for a given group to die out.

Photo by Ingrid Visser, Orca Research Trust

My clear orca necklace was released on etsy yesterday!

All orca jewellery purchases come with the option of donating to Orca Research Trust, with money going directly to Dr. Ingrid Visser and the work that she does for wild and captive killer whales.


Now I’m all rebranded, I think I need new business cards!

Right whale necklaces feature the option to donate to WWF Canada’s Right Whale campaign.

Orca necklaces feature the option to donate directly to Orca Research Trust.

Narwhal and Humpback are in the process of partnering with complimentary charities.

Thanks you all so much for your support ♡

Another photo from the Orca Research Trust. No context or caption given for the photo, but I assume this guy is hunting for stringrays in shallow water, as the NZ orcas are known to do.