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Killer Whales

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Facts about killer whales and conservation

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  • Actually resident orcas do not eat marine mammals they eat fish like...salmon, and herring. Off shore Orcas eat sea turtles, sharks, big fish.. However Transient orcas do eat marine mammals such as walrus and dolphins!
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Killer Whales

  1. 1. (Orcinus Orca)
  2. 2. Key Facts On Killer Whales  Anatomy  Pod Formation  Communication  Food and Feeding  Sub Species (Transient & Resident)  Behaviour  Distribution
  3. 3. Anatomy  Despite their name Killer whale, orcas are actually the largest members in the dolphin family.  They are called whales due to their shear size, rather than their anatomy.  Their distinctive jet black, brilliant white and grey markings probably make it the easiest cetacean to identify.
  4. 4. Anatomy  The main differences in sexes are the shape and size of the dorsal fin and bulkiness of the body.  Adult males are larger and have dorsal fins up to 1.8m tall and vertical in shape.  Whereas adult females have dorsal fins which are much more curved and not quite as tall, standing at 1.5m.
  5. 5. Dorsal fins  Female  Male
  6. 6. Pod Formation  Single individuals can be encountered in the ocean but close-knit pods are the most typical sighting.  Occasionally two or more pods may come together to form super pods, which may contain up to 150 orcas.  Members of a pod usually stay together for life and groups of closely related pods (known as clans) develop their own unique dialects.
  7. 7. Pod Formation  Pods may travel in tight formation or spread across 1km of ocean.  Killer whale pods are led by the oldest female in the family.
  8. 8. Communication  Like all dolphins, orcas communicate with one another by clicks, whistles and body contact.  Also like all cetaceans they use sonar to see their surroundings.  They are highly sociable and fighting within a pod is a rare sight.  When they are working as a team to bring down their prey, they regularly communicate so each individual knows what rolls to play and when.
  9. 9. Food and Feeding  Killer whales are very versatile in what they pray upon no matter what shape or even size.  Animals known to make up their diet consist of squid, octopus, fish, sea birds, turtles, seals and other cetaceans.  Videos have been taken of orcas attacking great white sharks and blue whales, evidence of their capabilities.
  10. 10. Food and Feeding  The relationship between killer whales and their prey is rather complex.  Pods often ignore potential prey and specialize on other animals.  Luckily for us humans we are not on their menu in the wild.  Only orcas in captivity have been known to attack people.
  11. 11. Sub Species (Transients & Residents) Studies which have been carried out in North America suggest that there are two sub species of killer whale Transients and residents. The factors separating these sub species are behavioral.
  12. 12. Transients  Transients tend to form smaller pods, numbering between 1-7 individuals.  Explore wider areas of sea.  Feed almost exclusively on mammals.  Communicate to each other less.  Stay under water for 5 – 15 minutes at a time.
  13. 13. Residents  Residents form larger pods between 5 – 25 individuals.  Roam over smaller areas.  Feed mainly on fish.  Vocalize frequently.  Dives rarely exceed 4 minutes.
  14. 14. Behaviour  Orcas are very sociable animals and are safe to approach.  They commonly breach, lob tail, flipper slap and spy hop.  They do also beach rub, dorsal fin slap and speed swim.  Whilst resting logging dose take place.
  15. 15. Behaviour  They do however have a dark side when it comes to attacking their prey.  When killer whales purposely beach themselves to snatch a seal from the coast they do sometimes play cat and mouse.
  16. 16. Behaviour  Despite this cruel behaviour, one video shows orcas spy hopping, circling and attacking a seal into the water from an ice plate.  However as a sign of great intelligences they don't harm it. Their just teaching the younger orcas how to hunt.
  17. 17. Behaviour  Breaching  Speed swimming
  18. 18. Distribution  Killer whales are the second most widely spread mammals on Earth, only human have conquered larger areas.  However the waters in which they range are patchy.  They are more commonly found in cooler waters than tropical.  They live both inshore and offshore.
  19. 19. Threats and Current Status Orcas are being taken from the wild for.  Meat  Marine parks  Damage to fishing equipment  The countries that hunt whales are Norway, Iceland and Japan.
  20. 20. You can help protect these mighty animals by signing up to one of these conservation websites.
  21. 21. Websites Killer whales conservation and research http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info- books/killer-whale/conservation.htm Killer whales adoption programme (KWAP) http://www.vanaqua.org/conservation/cetaceans/kw ap.html National parks conservation association (NPCA) http://www.npca.org/marine_and_coastal/marine_wi ldlife/orca.html
  22. 22. (WWF) Resident killer whales in British Columbia http://wwf.ca/conservation/species/sarrfo/killer_wha les/ The Pacific Wildlife Foundation (PWLF) http://www.pwlf.org/killerwhale/conservation.htm Vancouver Aquarium http://www.vanaqua.org/conservationinaction/killer whales/get_involved.htm
  23. 23. Blue voice http://www.bluevoice.org Wild whales conservation programme http://wildwhales.org/?page_id=56
  24. 24. Thank you for watching  References  Dorling Kindersley Handbooks WHALES DOLPHINS AND PORPOISES. Mark Carwardine, Illustrated by Martin Camm.