Orcas are one of the most fascinating animals in the world. Their massive size, beautiful black body and white underside are stunning to look at. But what exactly do you know about the sea animal? Here are 10 fun facts about the animals as well as where to find them at SeaWorld Orlando:
Are they Dolphins or Whales?
Despite being called killer whales, orcas actually belong in the dolphin family Delphinidae. They are the only species in their genus, but their closest relatives are dolphin’s species from around Australia and South East Asia.
Why the Name Killer Whales?
So if they aren’t actually whales, why are they called killer whales? The origin of their name is unknown, but one theory suggests they were called ‘killers of whales’ by whalers in the past, and the name turned into ‘killer whales.’ The Latin name for orca or killer whale is Oscines orca, which translates to “of the kingdom of the dead” and is likely derived from Roman God of the underworld Orcus.
How Much Do They Weigh?
A newborn baby orca weighs about 396 pounds and 5-6 feet long. Adult male orcas usually grow to an average length of 20-26 feet and weigh an average of 8,000 lbs - 12,000 lbs while an adult female will grow to an average length of 16 - 23 feet and weigh between 3,000 lbs and 6,000 lbs.
Where Do They Live?
Orcas live in every ocean. They are only absent from the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, as well as some areas of the Arctic Ocean.
What Do They Eat?
This depends. Orcas are separated into two ecotypes. Northeastern Pacific orcas are fish eaters whereas their counterparts eat most marine mammals. Orcas living in New Zealand have been known to eat sharks and rays.
How Fast Can They Swim?
Due to their large size and massive power, orcas are fast swimmers and have been recorded at speeds of up to 33 miles per hour.
Do They Have Predators?
Orcas are apex predators, meaning they are at the very top of the food chain and have no predators. No other animal is able to challenge them due to their size and power.
How Do They Hunt?
Orcas typically hunt their prey by herding them before stunning them with tail strikes. They also work together in coordinated attacks to create waves that can knock prey off floating ice into the water. Orcas have even learned to beach themselves to catch sea lions in Patagonia.
How Long Can Orcas Live?
Female orcas have a longer lifespan than males, living an average of 50 years. The average male is just 29 years.
How Do Orcas Sleep?
The animals have the ability to rest one side of their brain at a time. This allows the side that is awake to regulate breathing and prevent drowning, while the other side takes a nap. Fascinating!
Come see these majestic animals at the SeaWorld Orlando in the Killer Whale Up-Close Tour or at the Underwater Viewing area.