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photos of  orca (killer whales)

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ns6. Orca (Orcinus orca) breaching. Also called Killer Whale. Pacific Northwest- British Columbia Canada and Washington, USA, Pacific Ocean.
orca whale breaching photograph available for licensing
pt1296-D. Killer Whale attacks Gray Whale calf. Transient orca, behavior photos
rare photo of gray whale calf being attacked by transient killer whale
ly23. family sub pod of orca resting at surface next to boat with marine biologists
stock picture of Pacific Northwest orcas showing dorsal fins
pt0991-D. The Ocean's apex predator, fast and intelligent, the unmistakable Orca or Killer Whale.
killer whale marine digital photos speed-swimming (porpoising behavior)

more photos


   vitals                                                              bio
Orca, or Killer Whale
scientific name Orcinus orca
range world-wide, tropical to polar
Washington and Alaska USA, British Columbia Canada 
habitat coastal, open ocean
size to 30 feet (9m), 7 tons
diet salmon, cetaceans, pinnipeds, sea birds, more
trivia technically a dolphin; "Free Willy" movie star; adult male's dorsal fin is 6 feet tall; fast swimmer, up to 35mph
Quite possibly one of the most intelligent of all animals on the planet, the orca, Orcinus orca, is the sea’s apex predator, infinitely capable, superbly adapted. It is equally comfortable navigating leads through Antarctica’s ice bergs as the open expanses of the tropical deep blue. The largest member of the dolphin family, the unmistakable black and white "killer whales" were once cursed as rapacious killers and erroneously blamed for innumerable maritime crimes. Thanks to extensive scientific study over the last 30 years (much of the research conducted on the whale populations in Washington and British Columbia), we now not only know of the orca’s benign nature towards man but much about the inner workings of this animal’s complex life.
     It is a remarkably social animal, with family members often spending their entire lives together, arranged into multi-generation matrilineal groups normally numbering between three and 30. Each pod has a rich repertoire of vocalizations comprising a unique dialect. Sophisticated hunting strategies are taught from parent to offspring, such as purposefully beaching oneself on the beaches of Patagonia to capture pinnipeds or delicately stealing fish off fishing lines.
     Killer whales of the Pacific Northwest are divided into three races. Resident pods, such as J, K, and L in WA's San Juan Islands and southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada, return yearly during summer months to feed on the salmon bound for their mainland spawning streams. "Transient" and "offshore" races, sighted in the area from time to time, are distinguished by subtle differences in fin shape, body markings, and diet. Transients (and presumably offshores) feed primarily on marine mammals such as seals, dolphins, and even other whales.
     Life spans extend to some 80 years or more for females, with 50 years average for males. Males grow to over 30 feet in length, with females averaging 20 feet. Calves are born approximately 8 feet long, weighing 350 pounds.


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