Killer whales (Orcinus orca) also called the Orca belong to the family of oceanic dolphin (Delphinidae). They are sometimes referred to blackfish or seawolf. They are found in all oceans ranging from the Arctic and Antarctic regions to the tropical regions. Killer whales have varied diet which may consist of sea lions, walrus, seals and even large whales. They are considered as the apex predators even preying on larger sharks. If you want to know more about the interesting facts about killer whales, better read on.
The biological term of killer whales which is Orcinis orca actually came from two different sources. The word Orcinus was derived from the god of netherworld in Roman mythology who is Orcus while Orca is an implication of the barrel shape or cask shape which is believed to be the shape of the Killer whale at far distances. Killer whales are highly distributed along the vast sea. They are second to human when it comes to distribution. Killer whales are called that way because of their powerful teeth and jaw that can kill bigger whales. Their black and while color serves as a camouflage. When seen on top of sea, their black body blends well with the dark color of the water under them and when seen from below the sea, their white belly blends well with the well lit water above them.
Male killer whales (bull) are larger than females (cow). They can growth to a length of 5.8 to 6.7 meters and weighs as much as 3628 to 5442 kilograms. Female killer whales can grow to a length or 4.9 to 5.8 meters and weighs 1361to 3628 kilograms in weight. Killer whales have long, smooth and lustrous streamlines body that is tapered at both ends. Their well rounded forelimbs are called pectoral flippers and are used to steep and stop the whales with the aid of the flukes. The flukes are the lobes of the tail. The dorsal fin or killer whales can be scarred, twisted, wavy, curves, or bent. This fin stabilizes the whale at elevated speeds. Killer whales have great vision and hearing capability however they could no smell. They can hear sounds ranging from 0.5 to 125 kHz. Sounds are received by the soft tissue and bone near their ear.
A group of killer whales is called a pod. Each pod consists of 5 to 30 whales. It comprise of males, females and young whales or different ages. Females and young whales stay at the center while the male stay at the side. Subpods also exist. One subpod includes a mother and a daughter whale as well as some sister and cousin whales. Subpods may unite to form 50-500 individuals and this is called a herd or aggregation.
Killer whales are polygamous and summer time is their breeding season. Female killer whales attain sexual maturity at age 6-10 years while male attain sexual maturity at age 10-13 years.