Subject: Killer whales

S. Jones (
Wed, 11 Nov 1998 23:34:43 -0800 (PST)

On Wed, 11 Nov 1998, The Dimond Family wrote:

> Dear Ms. Jones,
> 	I am very interested in whales, especially Orca whales. A couple weeks
> ago I heard someone say that Orca whales have been found to be very
> different from any other whale. I know that they have the different
> characteristics such teeth but I also know that they are not the ONLY
> whales that have teeth. Do know what this could have be referring to? 
> Another question that I have is, do know of any good resourceful books
> on Orca whales? I would like to learn more about them but don't really
> know where to start! I am a sophomore in high school so I am really just
> developing my interests now but I'm finding oceanography to be really
> fascinating and am especially interested in whales!
> I would really appreciate it if you could get back to me. My email
> address is:
> Thank you very much. Sincerely, Kyla Dimond
Dear Kyla,

The first thing to note about killer whales (or orcas) is that they are
not really whales.  They are actually the largest member of the dolphin
family. There are three kinds of cetaceans:  whales, dolphins, and
porpoises. Whales can either have baleen or teeth, and all dolphins and
porpoises have teeth.  The cetaceans that have teeth are called
odontocetes.  The ones that have baleen are called mysticetes.

Killer whales are odontocetes, have a very complex social structure, and
also have a complex dialogue.  A good book to look at to obtain general
knowledge about whales is called "Whales and Dolphins" by the National
Geographic Society.  You can probably find it in any bookstore or library.
Check out your local library for more books on orcas.

You can also explore the web page for Wheelock College if you are
interested in researching career possibilities as a marine mammal
scientist.  They college has a good link on this subject.

I hope I answered all of your questions!  Good luck!