Killer whales, or orcas, are toothed whales belonging to the oceanic dolphin family. But, they are also the biggest members of this family. Not only that, these mammals are the most widely distributed! Finally, as very opportunistic predators, these animals are on the top of the food chain.
Where can we find killer whales?
Giving the fact these whales are the most widely distributed mammals in the world, in all oceans and seas. Therefore, areas include the coasts of Iceland, Norway, Argentina, the Crozet Islands, New Zealand, California, and Alaska. However, they adapt greatly to any climate. Thus, they can thrive both in warm waters near the equator, but in icy waters of the North and South Pole regions as well. Finally, orcas are more likely to be found at higher latitudes and near the shore.
How do killer whales look?
Of course, we all know what is the most known feature of these predators. Therefore, the long dorsal fin and black-and-white coloring are first noticed. Naturally, the body is cylindrical and tapers at both ends to form an aerodynamic shape. But, did you know these whales have massive teeth of even 4 inches long? Finally, as the biggest members of the dolphin family, they weigh up to 12,000 pounds and grow up to 32 feet!
As apex predators, killer whales have no natural predators. Sadly, except us, humans. Therefore, being at the top of the food chain, these animals can hunt and eat whatever they want. Heck, they are even called wolves of the sea, because they hunt in groups like wolf packs. Thus, their diverse diet includes sea birds, squid, octopuses, sea turtles, sharks, rays, and fish. In fact, some of them are even spotted hunting moose!
A female killer whale will give birth every 3 to 10 years to one offspring at a time. Therefore, after a gestation of about 17 months, a single calf of 8,5 feet and around 300 pounds is born. Pretty big for a baby, right? Thus, it nurses for 5 to 10 seconds at a time, several times an hour. Of course, this lasts until the baby is mature enough. Finally, the baby whale is weaned after a year and fully independent after two years.
Did you know killer whales have the second-heaviest brains among marine mammals?
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