What is a killer whale? A killer whale is considered a whale to most people, but its is actually the largest of all dolphins and one of the most superior predators in the world (Killer Whale, National Geographic). The scientific name for a killer whale is Orcinus Orca. The killer whale falls into the kingdom Animalia, the phylum Chordata, the class Mammalia, and the order Cetacea (Killer Whales , NOAA). Killer whales or orcas are one of the most intelligent species world. Orca’s are widely distributed in all parts of the ocean even the tropics (Diagram A). The estimated population of a killer whale is fifty thousand to about one hundred thousand. (7 Things About Killer Whales, Take Part) .
Killer whales are solid black and white, they also have a gray patch on their back called a “cape” or a “saddle” . The top(dorsal) side of the dolphin is black, including the pectoral flippers. The bottom (ventral) side is mostly white. The oval white spots behind the eyes are called “eyespots”. The size of a killer whale varies depending on the location of the dolphin. Adult killer whale females are smaller than adult males. A killer whale has a fusiform body shape. A fusiform body shape has less drag, which means that it is an efficient swimmer. The pectoral fin of a killer whale, which is very similar to a human hand (Diagram B), is used to steer and the flukes, or tails, are used to stop. The dorsal fin is used to help stabilize the whale when it swims at high speeds it is also encircled by veins to help manage the body temperature. The killer whale’s eyes are on both sides of the head, its about the same size of the eyes of the cow. The ears are a tiny opening just behind the eyes. Covered by a muscular flap is the blowhole, this is what the killer whale breathes through. (Physical Characteristics, Sea World).
The killer whale has four senses taste, touch, hearing and eyesight. Killer whales do have taste buds, they prefer a specific food fishes. A killer whale has a very well developed sense of touch. Orcas have great vision both in and out of water. A marine mammals eyesight is grater than a land mammals. Often in the darker sides of the ocean their eyesight becomes weak and make its difficult to see their prey, in this case they use their sound receptors to navigate. Orcas have very well developed hearing. Recent studies have shown that orcas can hear up to 100kHz. The lower jaw of the killer whale also acts as a sound receptor (Diagram C). Killer whales do not have a sense of smell because the olfactory nerves and olfactory lobes of the brain aren’t present. Since they are air breathing mammals that spend most of their time underwater a sense of smell wouldn’t really come to use. (Senses, SeaWorld)
Killer whales reproduce sexually. A female killer whale is sexually mature when it reaches fifteen to sixteen feet. Males are sexually mature when they reach eighteen to twenty feet. Baby killer whales are called calves. The gestation process for calves is seventeen months. Calves are born throughout the year but mostly during the summer time. Calves are born every five years. A calf weighs around three hundred to four hundred pounds and is approximately eight feet long. (Reproduction and Gestation, WhalesBC). Orcas are very conservative of their young.(Killer Whales, National Geographic).
Killer whale are highly active predators. Orcas eat a wide variety of species, such as squids, sea mammals, and fish. These dolphins are one of the top predators in the ocean. Orcas eat a wide variety of fish, like fishes from the surface, such as salmon, to bottom dwelling species, such as halibut. Some orcas feed on marine mammals like walruses, baleen whale, sea lion, seals, and sometimes sea otters. Its common for killer whales to eat varieties of fish and squids , but very rarely they eat sea mammals. Adult Orcas eat about two to four percent of their body weight in food every day(Food...
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