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Killer Whale - Orcinus orca

The Killer Whale is not even a true whale. In fact, the Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) is the largest member of the dolphin family (like Flipper The Dolphin). Which makes me think how many times the Miami Dolphins would have won the Super Bowl. if they were actually named the “Miami Killer Whales”? Anyhow, back to reality and the point of this little bio on Killer Whales.

Picture of a Killer Whale
Killer Whale

The Killer Whale or ORCA as they are commonly called, inhabits all of the World’s oceans, preferring the coastal waters near shore in the cooler regions of the planet. Male Killer Whales are larger then the female of the species and can be distinguished easily by the shape of the whales dorsal fin. The dorsal fin of the male Killer Whale is significantly larger and is shaped more triangular then the female’s. The dorsal fin of the female is smaller then that of the male and is curved backwards. Killer Whale Weight is variable and fluctuates from individual to individual. Males have been recorded weighing over 19,000 pounds, with the maximum female weight just around 11,000 pounds.

If you look at Pictures of Killer Whales, you will clearly notice its extremely contrasting color pattern of black and white or black and gray. If you look at a Killer Whale Skull, you will notice that the animal has some very impressive teeth, about 14 on each side top and bottom. Killer Whale Teeth along with Sperm Whale Teeth were among the favorites of Scrimshaw Artists on the whaling ships. From looking at these teeth, it obvious that these animals are predators and prefer a diet of flesh to krill or plankton the preferred diet of the Giant Blue Whale the largest mammal on Earth! Funny how the largest mammal on earth eats the smallest creatures on earth. Makes you think of how tightly interwoven nature truly is and how important one species is to another.

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The Killer Whales Diet is varied, but they prefer other warm blooded marine mammals like other species of dolphin, Elephant Seals, Seal Lions, Walrus, as well as some species of whale, including the Mystical Unicorn NARWHAL. A really neat piece of Killer Whale trivia is that they have the claim to fame of being the “WORLDS LARGEST PREDATOR OF WARM-BLOODED ANIMALS”. I love learning obscure wildlife facts like that ;-)!

Schools of over 200 Killer Whales have been observed together, however the typical group or “Killer Whale Pod” as they are called scientifically, usually consist of about 6 to 12 animals. These Killer Whale Pods are run by one large Alpha Male and are very well organized social groups. JAC COUSTEAU loved KILLER WHALES, and observed a large pod of over 40 animals back in 1972.

Baby Killer Whales are primarily born in the autumn even though mating can occur year round. Females give birth to only one baby Killer Whale at a time. Which is saying allot if you are giving birth to a 400 plus pound baby. The Killer Whales Gestation Period is extremely long in duration. The gestation period has been recorded in captive killer whales to last 517 days! WOW! The baby whale then takes an additional full year + to be fully weaned from its mother’s milk. The female’s interval between birth is anywhere from 3 to 9 years. While we are on the subject of the whales gestation period, I would like to mention a quick Animal Gestation Fact. Although I am sure there is an exception, it seems like the longer the gestation period the longer the infants weaning period. For example, the African Elephant and Asian Elephant have extremely long gestation periods and their infants are not weaned until way past their 1st year. Compare that to a Ruffed Lemur who typically has a gestation of 101 to 105 days and weans its baby in 3 months.

Killer Whales are truly incredible marine mammals and really no not deserves the name “Killer”. Like any predator, they kill to eat and survive. Unless provoked, there have been very few documented cases of Killer Whale Attacks on humans. It is the humans that truly deserve the name “Killer”. Back in the 50’s, the US NAVY machine-gunned to death over 300 Killer Whales after being asked by the government of Iceland. Then in the 70’s and 80’s the Soviet Whaling Ships slaughtered over 900. It never ceases to amaze me how barbaric our species can be! What a disgrace! This is one reason why Dave and I love animals so much often preferring them to most people.

We hope you all enjoyed this small bit of Killer Whale Information. Please take the time out to learn about numerous other species of animals in our “Education Center” and without a doubt, you need to check out our world-renowned WEB CAMS set up in the Sanctuary’s White Tiger, Golden Tiger, African Lion, African Spotted Leopard and Lemur habitats.

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