Orcas or killer whales are the largest of the dolphins and one of the world’s most powerful predators. Their stunning black-and-white color scheme immediately distinguishes them. Orcas, who are clever and friendly, produce a diverse spectrum of communication sounds, and each pod has distinct noises that its members can recognize even from a distance.
They communicate and hunt using echolocation, producing sounds that travel underwater until they collide with things and reflect back, indicating their location, size, and shape.
10 Interesting Killer Whales Facts
Fact #1: Not Whales
Despite their common name, orcas (Orcinus orca) are dolphins. Sailors began to refer to these marine critters as whale killers after witnessing them preying on whales and other marine mammals.
Over time, the name evolved. While these massive creatures are apex predators who prey on fish and other wildlife, no wild orcas have ever harmed humans since 2013.
Fact #2: Found Everywhere
A killer whale favors cold, coastal waters yet can be found in any ocean on the planet. Orcas have been sighted at both the north and south poles, as well as the equator. Some people enjoy traveling and have been observed to travel vast miles in a pod. In one season, one pod went from Alaska to central California. This equates to roughly 1,200 miles.
Fact #3: Highly Intelligent
Killer whales have close-knit social groups, speak a language, have incredible memories, and teach one another hunting skills. They have advanced hunting techniques and the ability to communicate. They may be found in the majority of the world’s waters, from the equator to the poles.
Orcas are highly intelligent, gregarious mammals that have long entertained visitors to marine parks by putting on shows. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that orcas do not fare well in captivity. They’ve learned to swim up to 40 miles each day while exercising and seeking food.
Fact #4: Females experience Menopause
Only humans, short-finned pilot whales, and orcas go through menopause on Earth. Menopause has long been a mystery in female orcas, who can live up to 90 years. According to a recent study, there could be an explanation. The orca is one of the few mammals known to go through menopause.
Fact #5: Huge in size
These dolphins are famous for their enormous size. They can weigh up to six tonnes and are 16-32 feet long, making them nearly as long as a school bus. Males are often larger than females. The largest guy ever documented was 32 feet long and weighed 10,000 pounds. The largest female orca was only 28 feet long and weighed 7,500 pounds, but she was still extremely large for an orca. The average female is 16 to 19 feet long, whereas the average male is 19 to 23 feet long. The Antarctic is home to both the largest and smallest killer whale subspecies.
Fact #6: Can not smell
We believe killer whales are unable to smell because they lack smelling organs and even the region of the brain responsible for this feeling. All toothed whales are odorless because they lack olfactory lobes in their brains and olfactory nerves. Because killer whales are air-breathing creatures that spend most of their time underwater, their sense of smell is likely to be inactive.
Fact #7: Communicate through Echolocation
Killer whales, like their dolphin cousins, communicate with one another through underwater sounds. Because each pod makes its own characteristic noises, whales in one pod can tell if another whale is in its group. They employ these sounds to aid in their underwater travel. They can detect where items are by how rapidly their noises bounce back, even in the darkest depths of the sea. They also converse with one another, which makes them better hunters.
Fact #8: No natural predators
Orcas are apex predators, meaning they are at the top of the oceanic food chain with no natural predators. Because of their speed and streamlined bodies, humans have not spent much time hunting killer whales—according to NOAA, it would take 21 orca whales to generate the same quantity of oil as one Sperm whale.
Because they lack natural predators, these marine mammals can freely hunt and kill other sea organisms without fear of being hunted themselves.
Fact #9: Eat Sharks
When they are unable to find any less defended food, they are known to hunt and consume shark meat. In truth, killer whales have been observed hunting a wide range of marine creatures, including some of the largest known whales.
Fact #10: Fast swimmers
Killer whales are among the quickest swimmers in the ocean. They can swim at rates of up to 48 kph (30 mph), however, they normally travel at considerably slower speeds of 3-10 kph (2-6 mph)!
The Bottom Line
Killer whales also known as Orcas, belong to the dolphin family. They are highly intelligent species and are natural predators of sharks. They are fast swimmers and are always looking for food. Being social animals, they live in pods and communicate through echolocation. Orcas are fascinating marine creatures with remarkable appearances.