The nickname gives them a bad rap, a killer whale isn’t some animal that kills anything in its path, including humans. No, the orca—which is short for their scientific name, Orcinus orca—is only given such a provocative name because of their reputation for hunting larger animals, rather than go after small crustaceans or plankton, as with their cousins. Orca prefer to go after seals, sea lions, dolphin, or beluga whales; and because they hunt using their shark-like teeth, their hunts are often bloody and violent. Such is nature.
Orcas are famous for their amazing black and white patterns on their bodies, namely the big white patches that look like eyes. Their real eyes are located just in front of these patches. Scientists think this larger false eye impression could just be a form of “costuming” for mating purposes and/or a way to trick prey with a form of disruptive coloration that serves as camouflage in the ocean.
These whales can swim very fast and accelerate quickly, thanks to their thick muscle and cylinder-shaped body. Orca whales also have a very prominent dorsal fin, which helps them maneuver very quickly in the water. Female orcas have larger dorsal fins than males. An adult orca whale can grow up to 32 feet long and weigh up to six tons.
Orcas are the most generally appropriated warm blooded animals, other than people. They live in the seas and oceans encompassing most waterfront nations. They adjust extremely well to any atmosphere. For instance, they can live in the warm waters close to the equator or the cold waters of the North and South Pole areas. Orcas will probably be found at higher scopes and close to the shore, however.
These creatures don’t remain in one region and have been recorded voyaging long spans. For instance, one review found a gathering of orcas voyaging the distance from the waters off of Alaska to those close to California. This is a separation of more than more than 1,200 miles.
Orcas are exceptionally social and live in gatherings of groups, which more often than not have up to 40 individuals, as indicated by National Geographic. There are two types of groups: A standard pod is less forceful and has a tendency to incline toward fish. Transient pods act much like wolf packs and are a great deal more forceful. They chase marine life by cooperating in complex hunting behaviors that involve deception, confusion, and intimidation, among others.
Orcas are known as apex predators in nature, at the highest point of the food chain. No marine creatures (aside from people) will go after orcas. Orcas feast upon birds, fish, beluga whales, dolphins, manatees, octopuses, ocean turtles, sharks, seals, sea lions, and fish. Orcas have even been known to catch giant moose who stray too close to the water’s edge.
Orcas utilize a wide range of systems to catch prey. They will even hop from the water onto capture seals on shores and icebergs. Orcas will likewise cooperate to get bigger prey or gatherings of prey, for example, schools of fish. They are highly intelligent and very adapted to catching ocean prey of all sizes.
A dark side to orcas is their propensity for cannibalism, eating unattended young calves if the opportunity presents itself.
A female orca will conceive an offspring each three to 10 years, but only one at a time. The incubation time frame as a rule goes on for around 17-19 months. Offspring are born to be around 8-9 feet long and weigh around 300 pounds. Calves suckle for about 10 seconds a time, a few times 60 minutes. This goes on day and night until the calf has developed enough. It is weaned at a year old. Orcas can live anywhere from 50 to 100 years. They do not live very long in captivity, as with most large marine animals.
Orcas that live in the Salish Sea are classified as endangered. There are only about 82 members left in this species and their numbers have not improved over the last two decades. The remaining numbers of orca in the world are difficult to track, but their populations have been affected similarly to other large marine life, especially since their major food sources have decreased or migrated due to climate change.
Fun Facts and Talents of Orca Killer Whales
Here are some little-known facts about the infamous killer whale, or orca, that you probably didn’t know:
It’s not a Whale
Another misnomer about this animal that can be blamed on the popularized nickname is that it isn’t actually a whale. Orcas are just big dolphins, they are their big cousins and are mammals, not fish.
Orcas can Grow really Big
Despite it not being a whale, orcas have been recorded to be as big as 32 feet long and weigh over 11 tons. That’s essentially the size of a bus. Male orcas grow to be the largest. Even baby orcas are born to be bigger than three adult humans.
Orcas Eat Sharks
Even though most of us think of the shark as the king of the oceans, in reality, that title belongs to the orca. Sharks don’t hunt orca, they get hunted by them. Killer whales don’t have predators, they’re the super predator and will not hesitate to go after a shark if they have the advantage. As mentioned previously, orcas have been known to hunt land animals, like moose, and even polar bears!
Basically, any unfortunate creature to cross paths with an orca could be what’s on the menu that day, if the orca hasn’t already filled its appetite.
One clever strategies that orcas will use when hunting together is flipping over icebergs that penguins, sea lions, and seals will use to soak up the sun. Once their prey is in the water, all bets are off. They must out-maneuver the killer whales and make it back onto dry land.
They have no Sense of Smell
Orcas don’t have the organs or a place on the cerebrum devoted to this sense, so it is said that they can’t smell anything. They do, be that as it may, have great faculties of sight and hearing. They can hear superior to canines and even bats. Utilizing this magnificent advantage of hearing, orcas rehearse echolocation. This implies orcas create sounds and afterward tune in to the echoes. Along these lines, they can tell if objects or different creatures are close or far, and just precisely how close or far.
Orcas Communicate through Speech
The dialect of orcas is a standout amongst the most complex in the set of all marine animals. They deliver shrill shrieks, beat calls, and low-recurrence pops. They can even make applauding sounds with their jaws. The shrieks are utilized for short proximity or private correspondence, while the beat calls are utilized for long-range correspondence. Individuals from a similar group make similar calls, which the calves ones pick-up from their moms. Each group sort of has their own personality, they are similar to cliques in this way.
Beside imparting through sound, orcas convey through touch and through different motions, for example, head-butting and slapping their flippers.
They are Never Fully Asleep
Like different dolphins, orcas can’t totally go to into a deep rest, since they need to go up to the surface to inhale from time to time. Rather, they shut down with only 50% of their brains. In the event that a killer whale’s left eye is open, that implies the opposite side of its mind is alert and the other snoozing, and then the other way around in regular intervals.
No Orca has Hunted Humans
Fearsome as they may be, no killer whale has been known to assault, and never eat, people in nature. In artificial settings, it is another story. A few mentors and marine representatives have been assaulted by orcas, some of them died. In any case, researchers assert this is because of weight on the killer whale’s part. All things considered, orcas are kept in tanks which, however enormous, are still nothing when contrasted with the sea, and are isolated from individuals from their family pod, once in a while even from their own young.
This is why orcas have been so widely protest against being kept in captivity. They are highly intelligent creatures who suffer real mental illness from the practices of establishments like Sea World.