Orcas: Our Shared Future

Unleash the magic of the sea with "Orcas: Our Shared Future." Trace the evolution of our beliefs about orcas, from fear to admiration and awe, as we discover their stunning intelligence and complex social structures. Meet a life-sized replica of an orca family as you listen to their soothing harmonies in an immersive underwater environment. Deepen your appreciation for the art of the Indigenous peoples of North America’s Northwest Coast. Discover stories that reveal a profound respect for orcas, highlighting the deep connection between humans and these powerful beings. Examine the global movement to protect our ocean ecosystems, reflect on the consequences of captivity and celebrate the future we share with the fascinating and awe-inspiring orca.

Celebrate World Orca Week with 20% off

In honor of World Orca Week, we are offering 20% off any "Orcas: Our Shared Future" admission ticket. This is your chance to explore our complex relationship with these magnificent creatures and learn more about their culture, biology, and how you can help protect them. This offer is only available from Monday, July 8, through Sunday, July 14. No discount code is needed. Make a splash today and check out this stunning temporary exhibition before it floats back out to sea!

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Fun Facts about Orcas

  • Male and female orcas have different life spans and roles. Males are bigger, while females live longer and play a vital role in nurturing new generations.
  • Females stop reproducing when they are between 40 and 45, but can live to be 90 years old. It is unusual for animals to live so far beyond their reproductive years - orcas and humans are two of only five known mammals that share this special trait.
  • An orca’s top speed is about 37 mph – faster than the fastest human sprinters. But orcas can’t keep this up for long, and they normally cruise at about the speed of a person out for a jog – between 2.5-8 mph.
  • Orcas build social connections by touching each other. They have very sensitive skin that help them feel and appreciate physical touch.
  • Orcas can hold their breath for more than 15 minutes.
  • There are around 50,000 orcas in the wild.

Exhibition Walkthrough

Intro

Welcome to the world of orcas! These magnificent creatures live in all the world’s oceans. As apex predators, they have been feared and revered, seen as monsters, friends, rivals, relatives, and entertainers. Discover the surprising connections between their world and ours.

Orca, Culture & Society

Meet the stars of the show—three life-size replicas of whales from J Pod, the Southern Resident Killer Whales who live off the northwest coast of North America. Immerse yourself in their habitat with projections of underwater scenes and recordings of orca sounds. Learn about orcas’ complex, matriarchal social structures and cultural behaviors.

The Scientific Method

The more we study orcas, the more they surprise us. Explore how scientists study these marine mammals in the wild and in labs and museums. Learn about their evolution, anatomy & biology, and the unique populations of orcas all around the globe.

The Indigenous Killer Whale

Since time immemorial, Indigenous peoples along North America’s Northwest Coast, from what is now called Washington State to Southeast Alaska, have stewarded the land and developed deep relationships with orcas. Contemporary and historic Indigenous artists’ work reveals a profound respect for and connection with these powerful beings.

Age of Captivity

In 1964, when Moby Doll became the first captive orca, the animals some had thought of as dangerous monsters were suddenly seen as loveable entertainers. Meet whales who changed the world, including film icon Keiko (from Free Willy) and the original SeaWorld performer Shamu. See how orcas have permeated popular culture from aquariums to documentary and narrative films to animal welfare activism.

Our Shared Future

Orcas have shown us that we must protect our oceans: for them, for other marine creatures, and for us. Our worlds are intertwined. Explore ways you can make a difference—from learning about whales in captivity to supporting ocean cleanup efforts. Humans are the world’s sole source of pollution, and it is our responsibility to mitigate contamination and protect ocean ecosystems so that wild orcas—like the six new calves born to the Southern Resident population since 2019—can thrive.

Share Your Experience on Social Media

Share your experience on social media using #OrcasDMNS for a chance to be featured on Museum channels!

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