The Truth about Killer Whales
Killer Whales, or Orcas as is their technical name, get a very bad reputation for the most part. Since they are the largest of the dolphins and one of the most powerful predators they tend to be looked at rather badly. Granted, they do hunt the most out of the dolphin breed but for the most part they are simply looking for food.
Killer whales feast on many of the marine mammals such as sea lions, other whales, and seals. Their teeth are humongous at a whopping 10 centimetres long. In fact, they are the most dangerous to seals because they can grab them right off the ice and swallow them in seconds. Of course they also eat fish, seabirds, and squid as well. Killer whales hunt in pods up to 40 of the whales. Not all of these killer whales are family though as they tend to pick up transient pod populations as they travel so each pod is made up of some residents as well as some killer whales that are simply passing by.
Killer whales hunt their prey by using a variety of different techniques to catch their food. Resident pods tend to go for the fish while transient pods tend to go after other marine mammals such as seals. This may be because they need more fat and nutrition because they travel frequently. Each pod has their own effective hunting strategy that is similar to a pack of wolves. They start to make communicative sounds that alert the other killer whales when they have the prey in hearing range. They use their own sounds to reveal the location, shape and size of their prey since they cannot see them for the most part.
Killer whales are extremely protective of their young. They use a family pecking order so to speak to keep care of the younger ones. They do this by utilizing the adolescent female which assists the mother in taking care of them to keep them safe. The mother killer whales only give birth every three to ten years and stay pregnant for 17 months at a time before giving birth.
Orcas are beautiful creatures. They are immediately recognized by their black and white colouring that distinguished them from other whales. Extremely intelligent and trainable they are the type of whales that are most often seen in many of the aquarium shows around the world. Since they are not hunted by humans there doesn’t seem to be an endangerment problem with killer whales but there is a problem with the fact that they are kept in captivity. Killer whales over time do not do well in captivity, mainly because of their size.
Females can grow up to 28 feet in length and can weigh as much as 16,000 pounds. Males are even larger, growing up to 32 feet and over 22,000 pounds. They also dive as far down as 1500 feet and can swim over 30 mph which makes captivity very hard on them as they are used to being in the wild and having the run of the ocean. As “the” top predator in the ocean, Orca’s deserve respect rather than just being thought of as killer whales.