Killer Whale (Orca)

Robert Kohler and Kobe Bryant

Range and habitat

Killer Whales (orca) are found in all the worlds ocean both hot and cold from the freezing waters of the North and South poles to tropical seas. The killer whale is the biggest member of the dolphin family, and there are about 5 different species of killer whale in the oceans.

Killer whales hunt in groups called pods that normally contain from 6 to 40 killer whales. The killer whales hunt large fish and sea lions and often sea birds and mammals.

What do they eat?

The killer whale diet consists of fish, squid, seals, sea lions, penguins, dolphins, porpoises and large whales like the blue whale. Some killer whales have been known to slide on to beaches in order to capture a good meal. Resident pods (pods that primarily reside in one area) prefer fish whereas transient pods (pods that travel over a relatively wide area) appear to target other marine mammals as prey.

Killer whales are very successful hunters due to their cooperative hunting, where all animals within the pod participate. This coordination is apparently developed and learned within pods.

How long do they live?

Killer whales have no natural predators (they are the top predators of the oceans) and can live to about 50-80 years old. Killer whales have been hunted by humans but not with enthusiasm as it takes 21 killer whales to produce the same amount of oil as 1 sperm whales.

How do they have there young

Killer whale males reach breeding age when they are around 22 feet (6.7 meters) long while females can breed when they are about 16 feet (4.9 meters) long. Killer whales breed all year around and calves are born about 8 feet (2.4 meters) long after a 17 month gestation period. Female killer whales usually give birth every 3 to 10 years.
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Interesting Facts

  • Killer whales are social animals that live in stable family-related groups. Killer whales display a high level of care for their offspring. In addition to the mothers, various pod members (mainly adolescent females) perform most of the care for the calves. As with most mammals, killer whales are very protective of their young.
  • Different killer whale pods "sound" different. Each pod has their own dialect of sounds. They can easily recognize their own pod from several miles away based on the differences in calls.
  • Killer whales are often compared to wolves because both species are top predators, maintain complex social relationships, and hunt cooperatively.
  • To some, killer whales look exactly alike however they can be distinguished from one another by the shape and size of their dorsal fins, the distinctive grayish-white saddle patches behind their dorsal fins, as well as distinctive scars, nicks and marks on their dorsal fins.

What do they look like

Killer whales are large, stocky animals that have a large dorsal fin, with the black and white markings of the killer whale being their most distinctive feature. Male killer whales are bigger than female killer whales with male killer whales growing to around 8 meters in length. Female killer whales are slightly smaller than the male killer whales with the female killer whales growing to around 7 meters in length.

Why are they hunted

Killer whales are sadly hunted worldwide for their meat and whale blubber, which is used as an old form of fuel. Due to whaling bans in recent years, the killer whale population can begin to recover again.

How do they communicate

The orcas produce sounds to two overlap functions by navigating whistles, echolocation clicks, and pulsed calls. They makes sounds by moving air between nasal sacs in the blowhole region...