Killer Whales

by Rob Angerbauer and Conner Deprang

Killer Whales

  • Also known as Orcas, orca whale, or blackfish
  • Scientific name: Orinus orca

Habitat

  • You can find killer whales in all oceans and most seas. Its hard to compare the distribution of them because of their large range, but its clear that they prefer higher latitudes and costal areas.
  • They are common in the northeast atlantic, gulf of Alaska, and the coast of Antartica.

Appearance

Diet

They are sometimes called the wolves of the sea, because they hunt in groups like wolf packs. Killer whales hunt varied prey including fish, cephalopods, mammals, sea birds and sea turtles. However, different populations or species of killer whales prefer different types of food and may not even recognize something as food.

Threats

  • Killer whales are known as apex predators which means that they themselves have no natural predators.
  • However, they are a conservation dependent species due to human interaction.
  • oil spills, boat/noise interference, and depletion of food sources are contributing factors

Mating

  • Female killer whales begin to mature at around the age of 10 (reaching peak fertility around 20)
  • To avoid inbreeding, males mate with females from other pods.
  • Mothers calve, with usually a single offspring, about once every five years.
  • Females can often breed until age 40, after which comes a rapid decrease in fertility.

Communication

  • Like all cetaceans, killer whales depend heavily on underwater sound for orientation, feeding, and communication.
  • They produce three categories of sounds: clicks, whistles, and pulsed calls.
  • Clicks are believed to be used primarily for navigation and discriminating prey and other objects in the surrounding environment, but are also commonly heard during social interactions.