Subject: KILLER WHALE (ORCA)

Lindsay J Porter (h9390327@hkucc.hku.hk)
Thu, 4 Dec 1997 20:20:18 +0800

>1.WHERE DOES IT LIVE?
>
>2. WHAT DOES IT EAT?
>
>3. INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THIS WHALE:
>
>4. WHAT DOES TI LOOK LIKE? (COLOR, SIZE, SPECIAL FEATURES)

Dear Jean,

IT LIVES
The Killer whale is found in all of the world's oceans, particulary in
temperate waters - where a lot of the research on the species has been
conducted.  There are two types of killer whale - transient and resident.
The two differ in behaviour and appearance - transients are smaller and tend
to prey on other marine mammals and turtles.  'Resident' grooups are quoted
as being the most stable of societies known among non-human animals, that
is, individuals stay in the same family groups for life.

Most of the following information is derived from resident and captive whales

APPEARANCE
Males can grow to approx. 32 ft. in length and can weigh 10 tons 
Females can grow to approx. 27 ft. in length and can weigh  7 tons 
Newborn calves are approx. 7 ft. in length and weigh almost 400 lbs. at birth 

The species is strikingly coloured in a distinctive black and white pattern
with a unique white/grey saddle shape just behind and under the dorsal fin.
Their bellies are also white.  The dorsal fin is very tall in males (up to
6ft) but smaller in females (3ft) The male fin is sail-shaped whereas the
female fin is more curved - making sexes easy to distinguish.

FOOD
Fish (salmon herring), cephalopods, birds, other mammals, turtles.
 
SOME FACTS

RESIDENTS 
Pods
Individuals live in pods of up to 50 whales. Within these pods smaller units
occur which in turn are comprised of  a few individuals.  These units or
associations remain stable throughout the whales lifetime.  

Common Behavior
Spyhopping -the entire head and front of the whales body is brought out of
teh wtaer vertically allowing for an all around view of its surroundings 

Breaching- a complete leap out of the water with an enormous spalsh as it
re-enters the sea.

Lobtailing- Smashing the tail on the waters surface - perhaps to display
aggression or to make a threat 

Slapping- Flippers slapping against the waters surface  - perhaps as a
fishing technique 

Communication 
Killer whales make at least 62 seperate sounds which consist of high
pitched shrills and shrieks.  Researchers have found that groups from
individual areas have a distinct accent or dialect 

Emmision of sound is also used to navigate and find food - this is called
echolocation and is a high pitched directional pulse of sound, the
reflection of which imparts information to the whale about its surroundings.

FOR more information on killer whales studies, go to the British Colombia
Adopt-A-Whale programme at website

http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/~adoption/

OR for natural history information go to the following site and click on Orca

http://www.oit.itd.umich.edu/bio/Chordata/Mammalia/Cetacea

I hope your questions are answered and that you find the sites helpful

best wishes

Lindsay 
email h9390327@hkucc.hku.hk
Dolphin Research Group
The Swire Institute of Marine Science
The University of Hong Kong
Cape d'Aguilar
Hong Kong
website: http://www.webdivers.co.uk/dolphin/index.html