I’m joining in the Blogging Through the Alphabet series with Through the Calm and Through the Storm as well as Adventures with Jude. I will be having animals as my theme.
Here are my past posts in case you missed them:
Today we will discuss the killer whale, or otherwise known as the orca.
Found in all oceans of the world, orcas are most common in the Arctic and Antarctic and are often spotted off the west coast of the United States and Canada.
Orcas are the largest of the dolphins (WOW! I did NOT know this!) and one of the world’s greatest predators. They feast on seals, sea lions and even whales along with seabirds, squid and fish. They grow up to six tons and 23 – 32 feet long (about the length of a bus).
Orcas are known for their long dorsal fin (the fin on the animal’s back) and black-and-white coloring. Orcas are black and white for a reason; their coloring helps to camouflage them by obscuring their outline in the water.
Killer whales have teeth that grow up to FOUR INCHES long!
Orcas travel in hunting pods of up to 40 whales. There are two different types of pods: transient and resident. The resident pods are less aggressive and mainly feed on fish while transient pods are more aggressive and mainly feed on marine mammals. Both groups are compared to wolf packs when it comes to their hunting techniques. They have social hierarchies, and pods are lead by females. Each pod also has its own dialect so they can speak only to each other. Pods often consist of three or four generations of whales.
They use echolocation to communicate and hunt, making sounds that travel underwater until they encounter objects, then bounce back, revealing their location, size, and shape.
They will not mate with another animal that is a close relative. Mates are chosen from those that are the furthest away from direct relations. A female killer whale will give birth every three to ten years (average of about five babies per lifetime), one offspring at a time. The gestation period usually lasts for around 17 months. A baby orca is called a calf, and they are about 8.5 feet long and 265 to 350 pounds at birth. Calves nurse for 5 to 10 seconds at a time, several times an hour. This goes on day and night until the calf has matured. It is weaned at a year old. When orcas are born, their dorsal fin is flexible, but it stiffens as the calf ages. Killer whales are protective of their young, and other adolescent females often assist the mother in caring for them.
Orcas live 30 to 50 years in the wild.
They do not stay in one area and have been documented traveling long distances (up to 1,200 miles).
A few quick, fun facts:
- The worldwide population of killer whales is unknown.
- Male orcas rarely ever leave their mothers. (For their lifetime.)
- Killer whales lack any natural predators. This means that besides humans, they are at the top of the food chain.
- Orcas generate three types of sounds: clicks, whistles, and pulsed calls.
- Scientists have discovered killer whales can have a brain that weighs up to 15 pounds. That’s almost 5 times heavier than your brain and it makes it one of the largest brains on the entire planet today that scientists know about.
Well, I hope you enjoyed learning about these amazing animals as much as I did! Come back next week when we cover the letter L and learn about the leopard.
Now go check out all the other posts of those who are joining in with Blogging Through the Alphabet. They can post this entire week so make sure to check back and see what has been added!
Enjoy the journey!