The Orca is my favorite of all of natures creations, I could site on the shores of Northern British Columbia for days watching them. Their vocalizations are mesmerizing. Their swimming seems effortless, quite possibly one of the most beautiful animals on earth. I suppose you could say this painting reflects a wish of mine to meet one someday.
Orcas (Orcinus orca) are often called killer whales, even though they almost never attack humans. In fact, the killer whale name was originally “whale killer,” as ancient sailors saw them hunting in groups to take down large whales.,
Today, orcas are recognized as among the most widely distributed mammals on the planet, occupying every ocean. They are incredibly social, diverse and ferocious marine predators with a diet ranging from penguins to great white sharks.
Orcas are the largest members of the dolphin family. Males are bigger than females, but they vary in size and weight, depending on the type of orca. The largest orca ever recorded was a staggering 32 feet (9.8 meters) long and weighed 22,000 lbs. (10,000 kilograms), according to SeaWorld. That’s longer and heavier than most motorhomes.
Orcas are known for their long dorsal fin (the fin on the animal’s back) and black-and-white coloring. The black-and-white coloring helps to camouflage them by obscuring their outline in the water. Just behind the dorsal fin is a patch of gray called a “saddle” — because it looks like a riding saddle.
An orca’s body is cylindrical and tapers at each end to form a hydrodynamic shape. This shape, along with the orca’s large size and strength, makes it among the fastest marine mammals, able to reach speeds in excess of 34 MPH. Orcas have massive teeth, which can grow up to 4 inches long,
Orcas are apex predators, at the top of the food chain. Humanss are the only animal that hunts Orcas. . Killer whales feed on many different types of prey, including fish, seals, sea birds and squid. They can also take down whales larger than themselves, such as minke whales, and they are the only animal known to predate on great white sharks., Killer whales have even been reported to kill swimming deer and moose,
Orcas are very social creatures and live in family groups called pods, which have up to 50 members, according to the University of Michigan’s Animal Diversity Web (ADW). These pods are made up of related mothers and their descendants, known as matrilines. A male orca will stay with its mother for life, while daughters may spend time away after having calves of their own, according to the wildlife charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC). Pods often have their own distinctive calls, or dialects, to communicate, but they will associate with other pods and can come together to form even larger, temporary groups.
A female killer whale will give birth to one offspring at a time every three to 10 years. The gestation period usually lasts for around 17 months according to SeaWorld. Orcas work together to take care of the young, and other females in the pod will often help with the rearing.
Female killer whales have an average life span of 50 years, but some individuals are estimated to have lived up to 100 years. Males live shorter lives, with an average life span of 29 years and a maximum life span of 60 years,
All orcas are currently listed under one species, Orcinus orca. However, there are recognizable differences between populations, and biologists have identified several distinct forms, known as ecotypes, which may actually be different species or subspecies.
Killer whale ecotypes can vary in size, diet and behavior. There are currently 10 described ecotypes: five in the Northern Hemisphere and five in the Southern Hemisphere, according to WDC. In the North Pacific, scientists have identified resident orcas, which tend to have small ranges — hence the name — and specialize in catching fish. Bigg’s killer whales, or transient orcas, can also be found in the North Pacific. These orcas travel great distances and hunt mammals such as seals and whale calves. Offshore orcas can also be found in this region. They live far from coastlines and have been seen eating fish and sharks, but relatively little is known about them.
The information in this article provided by Live Science, if you’ve never visited their site and you like the wild things check it out.