● Orcas -- also called killer
whales -- have been foraging marine habitats for 10 million-12 million years.
● Resident pods like the "J," "K" and "L" pods off San Juan Island feed mostly on fish. Transient pods that travel the coast also dine on marine mammals such as sea lions and dolphins, hunting them in packs.
● Orcas communicate with each other using distinctive calls. Each pod's group of "whale talk" sounds is called a dialect.
● Mature females are the dominant whales in a pod. Female orcas outnumber males 4-to-1, and some live to be 80. The average age for males is only 30.
● Orcas come up every 30 seconds or so to breathe. They cruise at 2-6 mph, although they've been clocked at 30.
Like other whales, the killer whale is a warm-blooded, air-breathing mammal.
They are called "killers" because they prey on fish, dolphins, seals and even
larger whales. There are no records of them ever attacking humans. Orca is
another name for killer whale.
Killer whales are top-level marine carnivores and opportunistic feeders. Their diet varies depending on the prey available locally as well as on the season. Each whale needs to consume about 4% of is body weight each day, so a reliable, abundant prey-base is essential, and each pod's movement is related to the movement of the food supply.
Orcas travel and hunt in social groups (called pods) of 3 to 40 whales, and sometimes up to 100. They swim in most of the world's oceans, but are most common in cool to cold water.
Adult males are recognized by their tall, triangular dorsal fin, females and immature males by a smaller, curved fin. Large bulls can attain a length of more than 9 m (30 ft.) and a weight of up to 7 t (8 tn.).