Facts About Killer Whales

Killer whales are also known as orcas, and they have been ocean residents for millions of years. Orcas are known as killer because of their large size, which makes them appear very intimidating. However, despite their large size these creatures can do some pretty amazing things.

Physical Description

Killer whales are very large in size, but that size differs depending on the age and gender of the orca. Killer whales are mammals and are the biggest member of the dolphin family. Males tend to be around twenty seven feet long, females twenty-three, and young orcas, eight feet long. Their bodies require air so, on average, killer whales will be seen coming up for air every 30 seconds. To swim, killer whales employ several flippers and fins that help them to swim and come up for air. Their fins, tails, and flippers also make it possible for their impressive swim speed of up to 30 miles per hour.

Communication and Food Gathering

To communicate with fellow orcas, the whales speak using “whale talk”, which, to humans, sounds like a series of loud bellows. Orcas feed mostly on fish, but occasionally they feast on teeth seals and other marine mammals. The orcas travel in groups, or pods and they hunt with their groups as well. They need to find good sources of food because they can eat around 300 pounds or more each day.

Social Behavior

Knowing that orcas communicate with one another makes it easier to believe that orcas are social creatures. The squeals and other noises that the orcas produce are used to alert fellow orcas of prey, and to other dangers. They also communicate using playful movements such as hopping, tail slapping, and swimming. Typically, there are more females than males in a traveling group of orcas.

Life of an Orca

Killer whales can live to be forty years old, and there have been reported cases where an orca whale has lived to be fifty and even sixty years old. Females live even longer, sometimes making it to eighty years old.

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