Subject: Killer Whale Questions

Patrick Miller (omalley@cetacea.whoi.edu)
Tue, 4 Feb 1997 16:42:11 -0500

>
>Hi my name is Rachel Ames.I am 10 years old .I would like to be a Marine 
>Biologist when I grow up and train Killer Whales as well as perform with them.
>I have some Questions I would like to ask.
>
>1.How do Killer Whales behave?
>2. What's their favorite food?Is it sammon?
>3.Arent Killer Whales the largest dolphfins?
>4. Don't Killer Whales get up to 30 feet in length
>and their dorselfins up to 6 feet?
>5.What kind of education would you recommend for me?
>From, Rachel Ames
>Thank you
>
>
>

---------------------------------------------

Dear Rachel - 

   Thanks for your questions about killer whales.  Unfortunately, I don't
know a lot about training and performing with killer whales, but I can
answer some of your questions.

1.)  How do Killer Whales behave?

  Killer whales in the wild have long-term bonds with their mother.
Killer whales are one of the few mammalian species where adult male
offspring still spend almost 100% of their time with their mother.
A mother and her offspring, therefore, form a stable social group -
called a maternal group.   Maternal groups which interact over 50% 
of the time are called "pods".
  
   Pods spend a lot of time looking for food and the rest of the time
resting, travelling, or socializing with other pods or with other 
members of their families.  Unfortunately, we really don't know what
killer whales in the wild are doing most of the time because they are
very difficult to see underwater.

>2. What's their favorite food?Is it sammon?

   Actually, salmon is the favorite food for some killer whales - 
particularly the resident killer whales that live in the waters off
British Columbia and Washington State.  Killer whales also eat other
marine mammals, such as harbor seals, dolphins, porpoises, and whales as
well as many other species of fish.  Killer whales off Norway seem to
cooperately hunt and feed off of herring, which are pretty small for
a big killer whale.

>3. Arent Killer Whales the largest dolphfins?

   Yes, killer whales are the largest dolphins.

>4. Don't Killer Whales get up to 30 feet in length
>   and their dorselfins up to 6 feet?


    Yes, adult male killer whales can grow as long as 30 feet in length,
and have dorsal fins as much as 6 feet high.  Females are typically
much smaller - about 20 feet long with 2-3 feet high dorsal fins.

>5.What kind of education would you recommend for me?

    My understanding is that to be trainer of killer whales you need 
college degrees in both biology and psychology.  So, you should study
hard and learn to read well - that's probably the most important thing
because you will need to be able to read complicated scientific 
documents.  Also, you should learn math as well since it is required
for college degrees in science.

    While you are working hard in school, you also should read as
much as you can about things you are interested in.  It really is 
an amazing, complicated world!!

    Good Luck!!

				yours in whale research - 

					- Patrick