Subject: Killer Whales

Jennifer D. Philips (
Tue, 28 Apr 1998 22:14:17 -1000

>Dear Jen:
>Hi. My name is Jessie. I'm in second grade and am studying ocean life. I 
>have some questions about killer whales. How high can they jump? How 
>long can they live? At what age do they give birth? Do they make 
>sounds?Thank you for answering my questions.
>Jessica Scott
>e-mail address:

Jessie - 

Killer whales can jump out of the water the full length of their body, if
not more, perhaps up to 30 ft out of the water.   Most whales and dolphins
can, and some, such as the smaller dolphins, jump much higher than the
length of their body.   

Killer whales females can live to be 80 or more years, and it is thought
that the males do not lives as long, maybe only until they are 55 or 60.  

They reach sexual maturity at 8 years for females and at 15-16 years for

The sounds that killer whales make may be one of the most interesting
aspects of their behavior.  Populations in British Columbia have been
studied for decades, and much has been learned about their vocalizations.
It has been discovered that the killer whales in British Columbia travel
together in family groups, or pods, which produce calls that are unique to
the pod.  Some calls are shared between pods, while other calls are
completely unique to individual pods.  What results is that each pod has a
form of a 'dialect', which is similar to a regional form of a language
(take, for example, English as it is spoken in England and English as it is
spoken here in the US).  Killer whales are one of the only species of
mammals known to have such dialects, besides humans.  New calves learn the
dialect of their pod, and the dialect tends to stay the same over years and
years of time.  
Try out the Whalenet page on marine mammal sounds - you'll be able listen
to some killer whales sounds:

Thanks for your questions.  I hope I've answered them all!

Aloha - 


Jennifer D. Philips

Marine Mammal Research Program
HIMB, University of Hawaii at Manoa
PO Box 1106			
Kailua, HI  96734
voice:  (808) 247-5063
fax: (808) 247-5831