Orca (Killer Whale)

Orcinus orca

This is a toothed whale species belonging to the dolphin family. They are found in all oceans in the world, from the Tropical Pacific Ocean to the Artic Circle, although they typically stay near colder, coastal waters. They are heavy, weighing up to six tons while growing nearly 23 to 32 feel long. Their bodies are one of their biggest distinctions; they can be easily recognized by their black and white coloration. They are very successful predators, and their prey includes fish, seals, squid, sea lions, dolphins and even whales. They stay in pods, or packs, of about 40 individuals. Some pods remain in an area for their entire existence, while other pods are driven to be migratory hunters.  According to studies, resident pods of killer whales prefer to feed on local fish, while transient pods typically hunt for marine mammals. They use teamwork and cooperation to hunt and take down their prey.

They are a very social species of dolphin, and each pod has its own distinct call that other members can recognize even from a distance. Besides communication with each other, their vocalizations can also be used to find prey (through echolocation).

Relations with humans tend to vary. Since humans discovered them, people have studied and feared these creatures for their awesome hunting abilities. The fear has been largely unfounded, as killer whales in the wild rarely attack humans; only in captivity have they actually been more aggressive. In captivity, their high intelligence makes them easily trainable, and trained, performing specimen can be found in aquariums around the world. In recent years, humans have become more and more aware of their conservation. In the past, whaling of this species was common; however, some of these orca pods were used to hunt other whales.

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