killer whale question...

From: Phil Clapham (
Date: Thu Oct 04 2001 - 09:53:54 EDT


1) Outline the type of environment that a killer whale lives in.
Killer whales actually live in a very wide variety of environments.
People are often surprised to learn that they are found not just in cold
waters, but also in the tropics. In fact, you can find killer whales
just about anywhere from the equator to the polar waters. As you
probably know if you've reda other things on this subject, there are two
"types" of killer whale which are probably on their way toi becoming
separate species (they have nothing to do with each other socially, and
don't breed together). These are "residents" (which feed mostly on
fish) and "transients" (which eat marine mammals). They're sometimes
found in the same places, but are very different in many ways.

Anyway, killer whales can be found in very warm water (e.g. the
Caribbean), or very cold water (as cold as the Arctic or Antarctic,
where they can be found swimming among the ice). They can also be seen
inshore (like off the Pacific northwest) or a long way from land (we
have seen killer whales in the middle of the ocean, and there's a
recently discovered group 200 miles or so out to sea in the North

2) Write a paragraph to describe how a killer whale has adapted to
survive in its polar environment.
Again, killer whales aren't just found in cold water. But those that
are have a good layer of fat (blubber) to insulate them from the cold,
and a lot of their body systems are devoted to heat conservation.

Hope this helps!

Phil Clapham

The Society for Marine Mammalogy will be holding its 14th Biennial
Conference from 28 November to 3 December 2001, in Vancouver, BC.  Visit
the conference Web site at for full details of
this important meeting.

Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D. Large Whale Biology Program Protected Species Branch Northeast Fisheries Science Center 166 Water Street Woods Hole, MA 02543, U.S.A.

tel. 508 495-2316 fax 508 495-2066 email:

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