Orca Whales / Killer Of Whales

Killer Whale off Depoe Bay, Oregon

An Odontoceti (toothed) mammal known as the Orca or killer whale is largest member of the dolphin family, but mistakenly called one of the great whales because of its size, they are found in all oceans of the world in “transient,” “resident,” and “offshore” family groups called pods. The males can live to be 50-60 years; females live 80-90 years.

“Resident” pods have a smaller home range and feed predominantly on fish, “Offshore” pods are smaller and are seldom seen, little is known about them, “Transient” pods tend to travel over a wider area and are occasionally seen off the coast of Depoe Bay, they feed primarily on marine mammals and juvenile gray whales. Individual pods will work together as teams to catch meals, they have no natural predators.

Orca whales live in a matriarchal society, their offspring living and traveling with their mothers, sometimes after becoming fully grown. They have well developed senses of hearing and vision, use echolocation, emitting high pitched clicks, bouncing sound off objects to locate prey, they communicate with each other using clicks and whistles.

Orcas have a single blowhole near the top of the head, gray whales have two blowholes. These whales have very large conical shaped teeth that grow in both the upper and lower jaw. Their upper body is mostly black with individually distinctive white patches behind their eyes and dorsal fin, their underside is white (white patches and dorsal fin allow identification of individual whales), have a tall dorsal fin that measures up to six feet in males and three feet in females.

Mature males can grow to 28-30 feet and the female up to 16-23 feet, males mature at about 12-16 years old, and females at 6-10 years. Gestation is believed to last 15 to 18 months.