killer whales

From: Pieter Arend Folkens (animalbytes@earthlink.net)
Date: Wed Nov 20 2002 - 17:56:30 EST

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    >Please help me help my 8 year old daughter with a school assignment
    >on KILLER WHALES.
    >Questions: 1. What continent(s) does it live on?
    > 2. Is it dangerous or helpful to humans? If so, how?
    > 3. How does it protect itself from enemies?
    >Camouflage, playing dead, built-in armor, escaping, fighting??

    1. Killer whales do not live on any continent (except those in
    captivity). Killer whales are oceanic animals. They are found in all
    oceans of the world with a tendency to be more coastwise than pelagic
    (open ocvean).

    2. They are neither dangerous or helpful. However, given the proper
    circumstances a killer whale may attack someone, but this would be
    extremely rare. In a manner of speaking, some may consider it helpful
    in that they are popular in adventure travel excursions. Whale
    watchers from New Zealand to Alaska enjoy seeing them in the wild,
    and I guess that is helpful to those who run the whale watching
    businesses.

    3. Killer whales are at the top of the food chain and essentially
    have no real enemies other than the occasional human who might hunt
    them. In the event they are hunted, swimming into deeper water and
    away from the threat is their normal escape strategy.

    Since you asked about camouflage I'll point out that the pigmentation
    pattern of killer whales is a form of mimicry camouflage for sneeking
    up on its own prey. In the dark water, the white ovoids on the killer
    whale as viewed from the side (post ocular patch, throat patch,
    lateral field) in a pod of several animals looks much like a school
    of large fish to myopic prey.

    For more information I would direct you to the recently-published
    book on killer whales from Voyager Press by Robin Baird, Transients,
    Mammal-hunting Killer Whales by J.K.B. Ford and Graeme M. Ellis, and
    The National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World
    published by Knopf/Randomhouse.

    I hope this helps.

    Cheers,

    Pieter Folkens

    -- 
    

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