The killer whales today evolved from mammals that had four legs. Inside the flippers of the whales is a bone structure typical of a four-legged animal’s foreleg and paw.
Leg bones, unseen by us, are there buried in the flesh of whales. The tail of the whale is muscle. They most certainly were able to live on land and in the sea in ancient times.
Whales have very tiny ears but their sense of hearing is very vital to them, especially deep in the sea where no sunlight reaches.
Killer whales have teeth which are three inches long and are cone shaped. They have twenty on the bottom and an equal number on the top.
They are warm blooded and have an internal temperature of 99 degrees. Their blubber helps keep that temperature even in frigid waters of the Antarctic.
They have good vision. Their skin is sensitive and they enjoy touching one another. If they need to scratch themselves, they will find a rock to rub against
or in captivity, the side of the tank will do nicely.
They have nostrils right on top of their heads. The nostrils close when the mammal is under water. A chemical called myglobin helps make extra use of the oxygen in their blood supply.
Their tail is what gives them speed in swimming. They move it up and down.
They can swim at thirty miles an hour. They travel in groups and hunt together.
Orca in the Arctic
The bull whales are about thirty feet long and the females are about twenty one.
Weight for males is as much as eight tons and six tons for females.
The females have one baby, called a calf, after a gestation period of sixteen months. She produces milk for the four hundred lb. baby and takes excellent care of it.
She will keep close watch over it until it is at least a year old. Then, they stay together in a family unit called a pod which includes cows, bulls and calves.
Killer whales talk to one another with a language of clicking sounds which are high-pitched and these sounds travel extremely well through water.
Whales can hear one another up to five miles away. If the sounds are obstructed by something, they return to the whale and it knows by how long the sound took to return as to how far away the object was. Each pod of whales has its own unique clicking language.
School of Orcas
Whales have large brains. Some speculate they can live to be a hundred years old.
So much is being learned about killer whales. Their reputation from ancient times was that they were to be feared and thus they were hated and treated cruelly.
Man is their only enemy, but also man has taken steps to protect them.
When they were first put on display and trained at oceanariums, a new side of the mammals was unveiled.
We knew they were at the top of the food chain and that they ate fish and smaller mammals, but it hadn’t been known that they would be friendly and gentle with people and adapt to life in a big tank and to being on display.
Killer whales exist in every ocean. It isn’t known how many of them exist.
Find out more about the Orca over at Wikipedia »