Where They Live
Killer whales are most common in areas with cold water uprisings like the Northwest Pacific. However, they can also be found in warmer regions like off the coast of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. They have even rarely been seen swimming upstream fresh water rivers in pursuit of fish.
Being the largest animal in the dolphin family Killer whales are most famously known for their size and black and white color. Males generally grow to be about 20-26 ft. long and females grow to be 16 - 23 ft. long. Killer whales are black with white bellies and sides and white spots behind their eyes. The skull and snout are somewhat oval shape and extremely short and rounded. The flippers are paddle shaped with rounded edges and the fluke is tapered back and pointed like a triangle. Because Killer whales are an apex predator they have adapted to have a strong jaw with teeth that are able to tear through flesh while withstanding the thrashing prey would cause in an attempt to escape.
Largest member of the dolphin family
Their diet consist mostly of small aquatic animals like fish, squid, octopus as well as larger animals like sea lions, seals, penguins, whales, dolphins, and sharks. Killer whales often hung in groups called pods, and depending on the size of the pod and the location their diet and amount of food consumed can dramatically change. Despite being a dolphin themselves killer whales also hunt dolphins for food, chasing them in a pod till it eventually tires out and is no linger able to swim. When hunting sharks killer whales will distract the shark on one side and then attack from the other.
Killer whales are an apex predator meaning nothing typically hunts it in the wild so it is free to swim around freely without being attacked. However the capturing of Killer whales for commercial use as captive animals for shows is a large controversy in society dealing with the ethics of taking an animal away from its natural habitat.In addition of course global warming plays a large role in the killer whales survival concerning the food supply in colder climates like the arctic.
Killer whales are pregnant for an average of 17 months at a time and give birth to the baby tail first to minimize the chance of drowning. After the baby is born it drinks fatty milk from the mother until it reaches a certain maturity level and is able to help hung in a pod or is fed solid food by its mother. Female Orcas will typically reproduce every 3-5 years till they are 40 years old and are no longer able to reproduce. On rare occasions killer whales have been recorded to give birth to twins but that is on very rare occasions.
Killer whales live in pods ranging in size from 6-40 members so communication is a large role in their community. Like other mammals killer whales will protect their young and attack outsiders if they feel threatened. They will communicate using a series of clicks and whistles to communicate important information to other dolphins. Communication may also occur using physical gestures such as light touches, jumping out of the water, lunging, charging, lob-tailing or spy-hopping. However the amount of communication varies from pod to pod.
Sean Berry 24