whale is one of the most famous whales.
"Killer Whales Swimming"
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Orcas are beautiful
animals! They are black on top, white on the bottom which is
actually a form of camoflage.When looking down at them from the top,
their dark color helps them blend in with the water. And when you you
look up at them from the bottom, their light color helps them blend in
with the sky. Many fish have this same camoflage. They also have white
patches behind their eyes. and a
distictive, large dorsal fin. They also each have a unique grey
marking behind the dorsal fin, called the "saddle patch" which is used
to tell the animals apart.
are one of
the largest of the dolphin family.
Males can grow 27 feet in length and can weigh up to 8 tons! They also
have dorsal fins that grow as high as 6 feet! Females are smaller. They
grow up to 23 feet and can weigh 6 tons. Their dorsal fins only grow to
2 feet and are more curved.
Orcas live in matrilineal families centered around elder females. One or
more matrilines may form a pod. Pods that share vocalizations are
called a clan and clans that travel or socialize together are a
are very large. They are four times the size of a human brain. They weigh 15-18 pounds, second only to the sperm whale. They are highly intelligent and social animals. They even show some characteristics similar to humans such as:
They live in family groups
They have distinctive language dialects that vary between groups
They protect each other
They mourn over the loss of a family member
They babysit for each other
They share food
They play together and
The mothers adopt orphaned members within their family
They also have some special talents that we dont posess, such as
echolocation. The are very adept at using this ability to locate their
food. They are able to tell the size, shape and distance of their prey.
They won the nickname "Killer Whale" because the transients and offshore Orcas eat other mammals, however, they all show incredible
awareness, curiosity and gentleness toward people. In fact, there has
never been a recorded case of an Orca harming a human in the wild.
Ironically, Orcas have no natural predators except for humans.
Aquarium capture, whaling, pollution, the reduction of food supply,
injuries from boat propellers, collisions with ships, noise pollution
and sonar testing have really taken a toll on the Orca population.
They have a wide distribution from tropical to polar waters although
they prefer colder waters and are more predominant in the Pacific Basin and there are many Orca cultures found in every ocean.
Although the groups look very similar, there are some definite differences
Orcas are also my favorite whale! I just returned from a trip to the
San Juan Islands here in Washington
state. It was awesome! I had the priviledge of observing the "K"pod as
they were feeding on salmon and traveling up the west side of San Juan