Killer name Killer whales aren’t whales at all – they’re the world’s biggest dolphins. It’s believed they got their names when sailors saw them hunting whales and called them “whale killers.” –oceanconservancy.org
You read it first in this week’s The Factory in Guide magazine.
Orcas, also known as Killer Whales, are actually the largest members of the dolphin family and can be found in every ocean on earth. They are very intelligent marine mammals. In fact, orcas have the second largest brain of all marine animals, after the sperm whale. They often communicate with each other by unique clicking sounds. Each pod will have their own special kind.
Because they are very social, they usually travel together in pods. They often work together when they are hunting by using different strategies and tactics. One cool thing they do to confuse their prey is spew out a lot of bubbles. This works to disorient whatever they are trying to catch. At other times when they want to catch seals that are floating on large chunks of ice, they will slap the water creating large waves that wash the seals off the ice and into their path.
These huge animals require a large amount of food everyday. Their diets often vary by where they are located. Orcas are carnivores, they eat meat, and some will feed on seals, squid and smaller fish like salmon, while others feed on sharks, stingrays and sea turtles, depending on what is in their current environment. They have many interlocking teeth that help them tear their food into sizable chunks easy to swallow. Because of their size they are considered the largest predator in the water, and they are at the top of their food chain, which means there is nothing that hunts and eats them.
However, many types of orcas are on the decline and close to being endangered. This is mostly because of overfishing by commercial fishing companies, habitat loss and contaminants in the water. Also, more boating traffic in their territory can cause them to experience more stress, less reproductive rates and shorter life spans.
It is not uncommon for them to get tangled in fishing line and netting which can inhibit their ability to swim and move. They need to be able to dive freely and swim up to about 100 miles each day for optimum health. If they can’t swim well, feed well or breathe well, the results will eventually be fatal.
When they do reproduce, the mother will carry the unborn calf for 12 – 18 months. Once born, the calf weighs about 450 pounds and is approximately 7.5 feet long. That is one big baby! Males will grow anywhere from 22-26 feet long with weights up to 6 tons, that’s 12,000 lbs! Females are a little smaller and can grow up to about 16-23 feet long, and weigh up to about 3-4 tons, 6,000-8,000 lbs!
Orcas are amazing, intelligent creatures who can live up to 50 – 80 years if their habitats remain clean and protected. As caretakers of God’s awesome planet, let’s remember to do our part to take good care of the earth and hopefully the Orca will be around for a long time.
This reminds me of Genesis 1:31, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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