10 Interesting Facts About Killer Whales, or Orcas

Orca breaching

Killer Whale breaching photo by NOAA

With the documentary out about captive Killer Whales (referred below as Orcas) called “Blackfish,” I thought I would list 10 interesting facts about Orcas:

1. Orcas are found in all the world’s oceans.

2. Orcas are apex predators and lack any natural predators.

3. Most males never leave their mothers.

4. Orcas have culture since their hunting techniques and vocalizations are passed down generations.

5. Orcas generate 3 types of sounds: clicks, whistles, and pulsed calls.

6. Each pod has its own dialect of calls (that only they use).

7. Orcas and pilot whales are the only non-human species in which females undergo menopause (around age 40 years) and live decades after.

8. There may be up to 4 generations of Orcas in a traveling group.

9. Orcas have the 2nd heaviest brain among marine mammals (sperm whales have the heaviest brain)

10. A female Orca gives birth to 1 calf every five years, and she averages 5 calves per lifetime.

10 thoughts on “10 Interesting Facts About Killer Whales, or Orcas

  1. This article made me want to know more! Can you recommend any books on orca whales or blue whales? I really enjoy how you explain marine life.

    • My favorite book on Orcas is “Orca: The Whale Called Killer” by Erich Hoyt. “Death at Sea World: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity” by David Kirby really opened up my eyes to the plight of captive cetaceans. I just read a cute children’s book called “The Blue Whale” by Jenni Desmond from the library. I also have an earlier post called “10 Cool Facts About Blue Whales.”

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