Subject: Killer whales and flesh eating

Jennifer D. Philips (jphilips@soest.hawaii.edu)
Tue, 05 May 1998 21:24:37 -1000

>Dear Mr.J. Philips,
>     WHY DO SOME WHALES NOT EAT FLEASH, BUT ORCAS WHICH ARE ALSO WHALES DO
EAT
>FLEASH ?
>                              
>                         SINCERLY,
>                                   FAITH


Faith - 

You're right, most whales do not eat flesh, and most dolphins do not eat
flesh either.  Killer whales are members of the dolphin family,
delphinidae, and some killer whales (only the population of killer whales
called 'transients') do hunt and eat other whales, seals, sea lions,
penguins, and dolphins.  The false killer whale, another member of the
delphinidae family, eats dolphins and other marine mammals as well, though
less often.  The reason for this, despite the fact that not all whales do
eat other whales, is that killer whales are filling a niche in their
ecological world.  Basically, this means that every animal on earth has
both prey and predators - it eats something and is eventually eaten by
something.  This is ecology.  So, when whales evolved to roam the oceans,
they filled the 'niche' of becoming very large but eating very small,
abundant krill.  Killer whales started out probably just as other dolphins
and whales, they ate fish and other sea creatures.  But eventually, as
whales became more abundant, killer whales evolved to become the predators
of whales.  Someone had to do it, so killer whales filled that niche!  That
is actually how they got their name.  Fishermen ages ago saw this behavior
of these big black dolphins eating other whales and called them "whale
killers".  Over time, the name got switched around to the name we use today
- killer whales.  

I hope this answers your question!  

Aloha - 

Jen


__________________________________

Jennifer D. Philips		
jphilips@soest.hawaii.edu

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