Orcas / Killer Whales
Maximum length: 9.8m (32.2ft) males / 8.5m (27.9ft) females
Adult weight: males: 11.1 tonnes max. / females 8.3 tonnes max.
Life span: 35-50 years
Sexual maturity: 12-16 years males / 6-10 years females
Gestation: 12-16 months
Birth length: 2 – 2.5m (6-9ft)
Birth weight: 180kg (300lbs)
Dive duration: 20 mins
Distribution: common in all oceans
Current world population: up to 100,000, the majority (70,000) in Antarctica. Orcas weren’t targeted by whalers, threats are interactions with fisheries and from pollution.
Killer whales or Orcas are probably are carnivores and have a keen intelligence that enables them to be trained in captivity to do various tricks for rewards and so have been kept in marine aquariums and “Sea-World” type exhibits for many years.
Orcas are the largest of all carnivores on earth that feeds on a variety of foods, they are found in almost all oceans, from the tropics to the Arctic and Antarctic where they will go deep into the pack-ice to hunt seals and penguins.
They are easily identified with their distinctive black and white patterning.
Killer whales are stocky in appearance compared to most whales which are quite long and slim relative to their length. Males are significantly larger than females and have a large and prominent dorsal fin that can reach 6ft (1.8m) in height, the females dorsal fin is usually less than half this height.
Their tastes are wide ranging from krill, squid, fish and sharks to penguins, seals and even the much larger baleen whales.
Killer whales are often approachable by boats and are generally inquisitive. They are frequently active at the surface showing such behaviours as lobtailing, flipper-slapping, spyhopping, wave riding and breaching.
Like all whales, sound is very important to killer whales. Researchers have even identified unique sounds and discrete calls that are distinctive to certain pods and family groups, to the extent that killer whale dialects can be identified.