killer whales

From: Kim Marshall-Tilas (
Date: Sun Dec 17 2000 - 09:26:58 EST

>dear Kim,
>I am in third grade. I am doing a project on killer whales. Since
>they live in the ocean, where do they go for shelter? How do they
>protect themselves during storms?Please hurry with an answermy paper
>is due monday.

Dear Justin:
Killer whales do not seek shelter from bad weather because their
bodies are designed to live in the oceans without shelter. I believe
that during bad storms when it is harder to breath air at the surface
that they probably stay under the water a little longer between
breaths. Storms are harder for baby killer whales as they are not as
strong but killer whales live in family groups and help each other by
taking care of the calves. Below are some facts about killer whales
that may help you with your project - also please search WhaleNet's
pages for more information. Use the how to find section at

--Live throughout the world, only hampered by ice (limitation to air)
and lack of food.
--Males grow to approx. 8.2 m, max 9.8 m. Females generally grow to
7 m, with a mx of 8.5. Mature males, dorsal fin can grow up to 1.8 m
--pregnancy lasts about 17 months.
--captive calf mouthed solid food at 3 months, ate some at 5 months
and ate at the adult rate of 5% body weight at 9 months. May have
continued nursing until 15 months.
--4-5% annual birthrate. Calving intervals 3 to 8 years, may be on
the higher end depending on density of the particular pods.
--meat, fish and opportunistic feeders, diets differ seasonally and
regionally. Seems to be no marine animal safe from attack. They
attack other whales and seals, penguins and other sea birds, sea
turtles, many kinds of fish (esp. herring and salmon) and even their
--Pod size can measure from 1 to 100 or more animals, but group of 5
to 20 are more common.
--It is thought that killer whales remain with their mother's pod,
until the lead mother dies, and then the pod may split as the other
females become more independent.
--Commercial whalers generally do not directly go after killer
whales. They may catch them while in the pursuit of larger animals.
Norway has the most documented kills. They believe that killing the
whales will help raise the fish stock.
--newborns 2.1 to 2.4 m long and about 180 kg
--females dorsal fin modestly curved and less than 1 m tall.
--flippers are shaped like broad rounded paddles
--calves, white areas are more tan or brown
--there are a few all black and all white killer whales that have been seen.
--most calves are born in autumn
--10-12 teeth per side of each jaw (40-48 teeth)

Good luck on your project!

Kim Marshall-Tilas
Senior Director
Ocean Alliance/Whale Conservation Institute
191 Weston Road, Lincoln, MA  01773
781.259.0423 or fax 259.0288

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