Orca or killer whale - All about the killer whale

Orca or killer whale: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. The orca (Orcinus orca), also known as killer whale or killer whale...

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The killer whale (Orcinus orca), also known as killer whale or killer whale, is one of the most widespread cetaceans and one of the two that most attracts our attention. A member of the Delphinidae family (sea dolphin family), it is the largest genus in this family. The color scheme it sports, based on the combination of black and white on the belly as well as its eyes, make the orca an animal that cannot be confused with another.

In addition, their robust build and hunting abilities make orcs excellent predators. In this PlanetAnimal breed sheet, we are going to tell you everything about orcas or killer whales, discover their characteristics and all about them!

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  • Africa
  • America
  • Antarctica
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Oceania

Characteristics of Orca or Killer Whale

As we said, it is the largest species of the Delphinidae family, in which we also find dolphins. Their maximum size is around 9 meters, the males being larger than the females, the record for the heaviest male killer whale is 6,600 kg. In addition to a smaller size, females have a much shorter dorsal fin than that of the male. On the other hand, when babies are born, they already measure almost 2 m and weigh around 200 kg.

Like dolphins, killer whales are sociable and they live and hunt in groups, each group having its own hunting techniques that they pass on to their offspring.They are animals capable of living a very long time, in fact, if they manage to survive until they are 15 years old, the probability of survival increases and they can reach 70 years without any problem.

Their appearance makes them unique, however, younger ones can be easily confused with the False Killer Whale.

Orca or killer whale habitat

Orcas are in the top 3 of mammals in terms of their distribution, only surpassed by humans and possibly rats. They inhabit almost all the oceans and seas of the world, but they prefer to live in temperate and coastal places. They are rarely found in areas near icy seas, however, they do periodically approach them.

Due to their wide distribution, they are a difficult species to count, so the number of specimens is not well quantified, but it is thought to approach the most of 50,000 individuals.

Habits of the orca or killer whale

" The seasonal movements of killer whales seem to be related to variations in their food sources. They move in groups of between 20 and 40 individuals, very often composed according to maternal ancestry (the mother and all her offspring), which very often gather together in larger groups called pods. In turn, the latter are associated according to their vocalization or acoustic behavior, forming clans that have a specific vocal dialect, different from the rest of the clans, normally inherited from the maternal line."

Orcas are able to produce a very large amount of sounds, which serve both for echolocation and for social signals, which means that they have a very developed and complex communication system. Newborn babies, as well as young ones, have a minor repertoire, but as they grow they incorporate new sounds, in addition, they have a very active and complex play behavior.The sounds include clicks which they use for echolocation, whistles and calls with different tones which, taken together, form dialects which allow members of the same group to communicate with each other.

Orca or Killer Whale Feeding

Orcas are opportunistic carnivores, they are super-predators of ocean waters that are able to feed on a wide variety of animals, both vertebrates and invertebrates, fish being their main prey, just like other marine mammals such as seals and sea lions, they also feed on certain seabirds. They are the main marine predators, so they are at the very top of the food chain (they can even hunt sharks) and humans are their only predator They are hunted for oil and meat production as well as to reduce competition with the fishermen.

" This species, moreover, is known worldwide for the violence with which it acts during its attacks, however, the name killer whale is wrong, because, in addition to being a species of dolphin and no whale, it is not that dangerous for humans, as you can see in the following article: Is the killer whale dangerous?"

Orca or killer whale reproduction

" As there are not many studies on the reproductive biology of this species, not much is known about them, however, females are known to have their first litter between their twelfth and fourteenth year. The periods of viability occur every 5 years, the females have, in general, about 5 babies during their reproductive life which ends around the 40 years. Males reach sexual maturity at 15 years old and they are polygamous, being able to mate with females that are not in heat as well as pregnant females."

On the other hand, killer whales can breed at any time of the year, but they prefer to do so in winter. Gestation time varies between 15 and 18 months.

Orca or killer whale conservation status

Since ancient times, orcas have been perceived by humans as dangerous predators, consequently being extremely hunted and hunted. Nevertheless, currently, the perception of killer whales has changed and they stimulate our admiration and appreciation.

" According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, there is not enough information to determine their conservation status, so the conservation status of killer whales is Information Deficient (DD). However, climate change (which could alter their seasonal movement), hunting for their meat or to lock them up in water parks and pollution, are its main threats."

Pictures of Orca or killer whale

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