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Killer whales commonly known as orcas are the
largest species of dolphin in the Earth’s oceans. Researchers draw distinctions between up to five types of orca within the species,
depending on their appearance and where they live. However, each type range from 23 to 37 feet in length and can weigh up to 6
tons. Male orcas are larger than females
but they live shorter lives. In the wild
orcas have a lifespan of 50 to 80 years.
Sadly, orcas in captivity rarely lived to middle age, and they frequently suffer from dorsal fin collapse as a result of swimming in confined tanks. In the wild, the muscles around the dorsal fin are able to develop normal while the orcas swim through the ocean, allowing the fin to remain upright.
These predatory mammals, hunt in family units called pods consisting of up to 40 orcas. Their diets vary depending on the region in which they hunt; but may include fish, sharks, marine mammals, and even sea birds. Researchers have observe that orcas in a pod use vocalizations to communicate with one another orient themselves and coordinate movements while hunting.
Interestingly, orcas’ pods are closely knit each has its own “language” very similar to the way that humans who live in a region share a similar dialect. Orcas in the wild are not generally thought to be a threat to humans, however, humans may be the biggest threat to the orcas existence. With increased boat traffic and pollution in the whales native areas, many people are concerned with the conservation of orcas and believe that we should do more to protect them from becoming an endangered species. In fact, some populations of whales have already been added, to endangered species lists within particular regions.