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Killer Whale
Animal
The killer whale or orca is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. Killer whales are found in all oceans, from Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas. Wikipedia
Scientific name: Orcinus orca
Trophic level: Carnivorous
Length: 28 ft. (Adult)
Higher classification: Orcinus
Lifespan: Female: 29 years (In captivity), Male: 17 years (In captivity)
Mass: Male: 8,000 lbs (Adult), Female: 3,000 lbs

Orcas, or killer whales, are the largest of the dolphins and one of the world's most powerful predators. They feast on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even whales, employing teeth that can be four inches (ten centimeters) long. They are known to grab seals right off the ice. They also eat fish, squid, and seabirds.

Though they often frequent cold, coastal waters, orcas can be found from the polar regions to the Equator.

Throughout history, orcas have been inadequately considered and the lack of knowledge about them, as well as the myths that have circulated for generations, have caused them to be cataloged as sea monsters, enemies of all aquatic species and mainly, “killer” whales.
This belief comes from long ago.

Their scientific name is Orcinus orca, from it, the word Orcinus means “from the realm of the dead,” relating to the Roman god Orcus master of the underworld. Later, poor translations ended in a name that eventually brought more fear to people, killer whales; both titles are incorrect. That is why now conservation groups are trying to eradicate that name to be replaced simply by orcas.

Killer whales are marine mammals belonging to the family Delphinidae, formed by several species of dolphins, false killer whales, and pilot whales. They are only related to whales up in the higher Cetacean order; however, most whales belong to the suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales) while orcas belong to the suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales).

Hunting and Communication
Killer whales hunt in deadly pods, family groups of up to 40 individuals. There appears to be both resident and transient pod populations of killer whales. These different groups may prey on different animals and use different techniques to catch them. Resident pods tend to prefer fish while transient pods target marine mammals. All pods use effective, cooperative hunting techniques that some liken to the behavior of wolf packs.

Whales make a wide variety of communicative sounds, and each pod has distinctive noises that its members will recognize even at a distance. They use echolocation to communicate and hunt, making sounds that travel underwater until they encounter objects, then bounce back, revealing their location, size, and shape.

Breeding
Killer whales are protective of their young, and other adolescent females often assist the mother in caring for them. Mothers give birth every three to ten years, after a 17-month pregnancy.

Orcas are immediately recognizable by their distinctive black-and-white coloring and are the intelligent, trainable stars of many aquarium shows. Killer whales have never been extensively hunted by humans.

Fast Facts
Status:
Data deficient
Type:
Mammal
Diet:
Carnivore
Average life span in the wild:
50 to 80 years
Size:
23 to 32 ft (7 to 9.7 m)
Weight:
Up to 6 tons (5,443 kg)
Group name:
Pod
Size about a bus