Killer whales or Orca actually belong to the dolphin family which consists of about 40 different species.
The name “killer whale” comes from the fact that they are the largest of all the dolphin species and are also one of the most amazing hunters of all marine mammals.
They have even been referred to as the wolves of the sea.
When fully matured these mammals can grow to lengths in excess of 26 ft. and weigh over 6,000 pounds!
When it comes to hunting for food they can often be seen working together using team oriented strategies to capture their prey.
One group of killer whales for instance may circle around a group of fish forcing them into a tight ball while another killer whale swims underneath them to herd them to the surface of the water.
They then stun the fish by slapping them or the water with their flukes and then take turns darting in and consuming the petrified fish.
These dolphins aren’t limited to just eating fish either.
Their diet can be pretty diverse and varies largely depending on where they live.
In fact some of the most interesting foods they have consumed include:
- Polar Bears
- The remains of other killer whales (most likely killer whales that died prior to being consumed.)
In addition to their amazing hunting methods they are also extremely family oriented and the children develop very close bonds with their mothers.
Even after reaching adulthood the children can still be seen traveling alongside their mothers in closely knit pods.
At times as many as four generations of family members may be seen traveling together.
Killer whales have highly developed social structures often compared to that of humans and elephants.
These mammals are extremely intelligent and can learn complex tasks from observing and practicing what their peers do, and have been observed teaching each other how to communicate, hunt and survive in the ocean.
In the 1960′s killer whales made their huge debut splash at marine shows.
One of the oldest known performing killer whales “Shamu” is still widely known today despite the fact that she has not been in performance for several decades.
Part of her fame came from her being one of the first killer whales to be successfully captured and being the first killer whale to survive in captivity for more than 13 months.
Today killer whales have become a main attraction to several aquatic theme parks performing flips and various acrobatic stunts and displaying their talents to thousands of people each year.
They have also become popular among movies and television often being depicted as friendly intelligent marine mammals that are capable of performing amazing feats.
As humans learn more about these amazing creatures they are likely to become even more popular and talked about.