Let’s get acquainted with one of the most amazing sea creatures, which is Orca. Many people call this creature a Killer whale because of its strong characteristics and ability to attack like whales. Orca whales are the largest members of the dolphin family. It has a variety of uniqueness, including the funny shape and color. There are also many facts about Orca that we need to know.
Due to its uniqueness, Orca has also been studied by several scientists around the world. In general, male orcas have larger bodies than females, but they vary in size and weight, depending on the breed. The largest orca whale ever recorded is 9.8 meters long and weighs 10,000 kilograms. If you are a true sea animal lover and love everything about Orca, then you have come to the right place. We have listed down 15 Amazing facts about Orca that will definitely surprise you.
1. Orcas are Not Whales, But a Type of Dolphin
Although Orcas are also often referred to as Killer whales, you will definitely be surprised by the fact that Orca is actually a kind Dolphin. The Orca, which has the scientific name Orcinus Orca, is one of the largest dolphin species out there.
However, most people refer Orcas as whales because the shape and structure of its teeth are similar to the characteristic of the teeth possessed by whales. Well, they are classified as toothed whales because of their suborder, but their specific family under the suborder Odontoceti is Delphinidae – Oceanic Dolphins.
With a teeth that can reach 10 centimeters in length, they become apex predators that are not hunted by any animal. Many people call Orcas savages and killers because they can eat a wide variety of animals, ranging from fish, seals, squid, seabirds, sharks, and even whales.
2. The Master of The Food Chain
Moving on the next fact about Orca, the fins of Orca es can reach 1.8 meters and the length of the adult size can reach 9.8 meters. They can also swim at a speed of 55 kilometers per hour. Orca occupies the highest levels of the food chain in the sea. They prey on mammals such as seals, as well as other dolphins. Orcas also have the ability to attack larger whales, such as Baleen Whales.
However, this is not an easy task. It took hours for a group of Orcas to hunt and attack a larger animal. Orcas are also not afraid of sharks. Usually, they will look for members of the group who are weak or young. In fact, some told of his experience when he saw a killer whale beat two sharks at once and eat them.
On October 4, 1997, off the coast of California, a group of whale watchers managed to record the moment a killer whale ate an adult white shark. In most cases, Orcas deaths are due to an old age or illness.
3. Can Sleep With One Eye
The third fact about Orca is probably one of the most unique facts in this list. Did you know that Orca closes one eye when sleeping? It’s because they need to occasionally come to the surface to breathe, just like Dolphins or Whales. If they close their right eyes, it means that their left brain is currently sleeping, and vice versa.
This unique habit is called the Unihemispheric sleep, and it’s actually a trait that many species share, including Pilot Whales, Porpoises, Steller Sea Lions, and even Chickens. Some people also think that the white part of the Orca is the location of the eye, while in fact the location of the Orca’s eyes is not right on that particular white part. While resting, killer whales swim close to other members of their pod.
4. Orca Can’t Smell
Although Orcas are good at hunting, their ability to smell is’s not that good, because Orcas don’t have olfactory organs and parts of the brain, which are the recipients of odors. However, Orcas can always rely on their good eyesight and hearing. His sense of sight and hearing is even better than that of Dogs and Bats.
5. They are Led By Women
Unlike most animals that have male group leaders, Orcas are led by females. British researchers have determined that female Orcas become they key leaders in their pods only after they reached the age of fertility, according to a study published in Current Biology on Thursday.
The Orcas choose their leader from the oldest female Orcas, because their knowledge and experience are essential to the group’s living interests. When compared with human life, it means that the leader of the Orcas can be called as grandma. As humans, this grandmother also plays a role in taking care of her grandchildren until they are ready to live independently.
6. Orcas are Friendly Social Creatures
Orcas live as a group of mammals with high social awareness. They will form a large group that includes small groups of Orcas. When it’s time to hunt and sleep, they will re-group back to the large ones.
They will communicate with each other if they experience problems, and will mourn if any of their members die. Orcas will communicate with other Orcas using sounds, such as high-pitched whistles. In addition, they can also communicate through touches.
7. Orcas Have Amazing Roaming and Adaptability
However, although Orcas rely heavily on their leaders, they are actually adaptable animals. Uniquely, Orcas live in almost all parts of the oceans in the world, from warm waters at the equator, to the icy waters of the Arctic and South Pole.
Generally, killer whales tend to live and hunt in pods of around 40 individuals. Amazingly, Orcas can travel long distances, for example from Alaska to central California with a distance of up to 1,900 kilometers!
8. The Largest Killer Whale Ever Known is 9.8 Meters Long
Orca is a huge sea animal. It weighs about 11 tons or 9,979 kilograms, or an equivalent to an African elephant. Typically, killer whales have a length between 4.9-9.1 meters and weigh about 3-6 tons or about 2,722-5,443 kilograms. Males are larger than females. In fact, at birth, killer whales are already about 2.4 meters old and weigh 181 kilograms-400 kilograms.
The largest recorded male killer whale was 32 feet in length and weighed 22,000 pounds. While the largest recorded female was 28 feet in length and weighed 16,500 pounds.
9. The Oldest Known Killer Whale is 103 Years Old
The oldest known killer whale is 103 years old. In general, Killer Whales can live up to more than 90 years. If we compare between male and female Orcas, females Orcas ca live longer than the male ones, and Killer Whales often die of old age or illness. The world’s oldest known killer whale, affectionately known as Granny, was missing and presumed dead Iin 2017.
10. Having Their Own Language
The language of killer whales is one of the most complex languages in the animal kingdom. They produce high-pitched whistles, pulsating calls, and low-frequency sounds. The whales hunt with echolocation, which is the use of sound waves and echoes to locate objects. When hunting, a killer whale sends out a series of clicks, called a click train, that spread through the water like a flashlight beam of sound.
If the sound waves hit an object, echoes bounce back to the whale. Echolocation allows Killer Whales to detect fish at distances of up to 500 feet, much farther than they could see in the dark water. In addition to communicating through sound, killer whales communicate through touch and through various movements, such as patting their fins.
11. Basically, Orcas Do Not Attack Humans
The interesting thing about orca whales is that in the wild there has never been a record of these mammals killing humans. No whales have been reported to attack humans in the wild. However, the story is different in captivity: some trainers and employees of the seawater park have been attacked by killer whales, and among them killed.
A killer whale named Tilikum is known to have killed three different trainers in 1991, 1999, and 2010. Scientists suspect the behavior was due to the pressure on parts of the Killer whale’s body that made it act aggressively.
12. It Has an Amazing Life Cycle
The life expectancy of females Orcas if calculated at the age of 0.5 years, following a period of high neonatal death) ranges from approximately 50. Male whales reach sexual maturity at about 15 years old, and the rapid growth of the dorsal fin indicates that.
Male whales continue to grow until they reach physical maturity over the years. There are also those who argue that Orca whales live a long time, which is more than 90 years. Females live longer than males. A study released in Ecology and Evolution states that scientists have found evidence that whales go through menopause.
Female whales that have gone through menopause stop adventure and choose to stay in the herd to educate their children and grandchildren on how to find food sources.
13. Mammals with the Largest Spread in the World
Killer whales are the second most widely distributed species in the world after humans, because they are found throughout the ocean. We can easily find Orcas in coastal, warm waters, and in areas with high productivity. Estimates put the minimum number of Killer Whales in the wild today at 50,000.
The United States National Marine Fisheries Service (a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) breaks that number down to approximately: Antarctic for 25,000, Tropical Pacific for 8,500, Northeast Pacific for 2,000-2,700, Norway and Greenland for 500-1,500.
14. They are Very Fast Swimmers
Killer whales are among the fastest swimming marine mammals. The killer whale’s large size and strength make it among the fastest marine mammals, often reaching speeds in excess of 35 km (65 km/h).
They can swim as fast as 48 kph (30 mph), but they usually cruise at much slower speeds, about 3-10 kph (2-6 mph). What an incredible speed for a sea beast of such a gigantic size!
15. Free Willy is The Most-loved Orca Movie
The last fact about Orca in this list is about Free Willy, which is one of the most popular American films about Orcas. Simon Wincer was the director of the movie. It tells the story of a special friendship between Jesse, a boy, and a killer whale named Willy. In the movie, Willy was confined inside an amusement park aquarium.
Free Willy was inspired by a true story of an Orca whale named Keiko. Keiko was was caught by fishermen in waters near Iceland. Back then, Keiko was living for 22 years in an aquarium. Free Willy spawned two sequels titled “Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home,” which was released in 1995 and “Free Willy 3: The Rescue” which was released two years later.
At the end of Free Willy, a number appeared on the screen for people to call and donate money to the Save The Whales Foundation. Following the film’s success, millions of people called that amount, eventually raising $20 million.