Did you know that the Orca whale (Orcinus orca) is the largest member of the dolphin family?
With their distinctive black and white patterning and huge dorsal fins, a pod of orcas powering through the waves is one of the most impressive sights in the natural world. Their large size and strength make them among the fastest marine mammals, able to reach speeds as fast as 34mph. Their black-and-white coloring works like camouflage, breaking up their appearance and making them harder to see in the water.
With an average life expectancy in the wild of 50 years for females (and 30 years for males), orcas live in family pods of up to 50 individuals. Calves do not leave their mothers’ sides when they become adults. Pods may contain four generations, with the eldest female being in charge and telling the group when and where to feed.
Orcas hunt in packs, coordinating their feeding raids with incredible skill. They eat a variety of different prey, including - fish, seals, dolphins, sharks, rays, whales, octopuses and squids. But often a pod will specialize in eating just one type of animal. For instance, one pod might have perfected their seal-hunting skills over many generations and focus only on seals, while another pod might be awesome at chasing down salmon, and so they ignore everything else.
Did you know that orcas sleep with just one half of their brain at a time? They need to remain semi-awake all the time, so they can surface to breathe.
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