Common Name: Orca, Killer Whale

Type: Mammal

Family: Delphinidae

Range: Killer whales or Orca are available in most seas and all oceans. They have a massive range. However, they prefer higher latitudes and coastal areas. They can be seen swimming along the Pacific Coast to the southeast of Isla del Coco, Costa Rica. They are also available along the south Caribbean coast.

Size: The Orca male averages a length from 5.8-6.7 meter (19-22 feet.); the largest males on traced were 9.8 meter (32 feet.) However, these are averages 4.9-5.8 meter (16-19 feet.) Calves length average 2.6 meter (8.5 feet.).

Weight: Orca can gain a weight up to 6 tons (5443 kg). The Orca male averages 3,628-5,442 kg; MALE largest males recorded weighed 10,000 kg (22,000 lb.) An Orca female averages 1,361-3,628 kg. Calve has a weight 136-181 kg.

Diet: They are Carnivore, Orca normally eat fish, squid, whales, sharks, seals, octopus, sea turtles, sea gulls and penguins, Fishes, marine mammals, birds and sea turtles. Orcas have powerful teeth that are around three inches long, and one inch in diameter. An Orca can eat about 550 pounds of food every day and can take a trip several hundred miles to get seasonal prey.

Average life span: Orcas Whale average life span in the wild is 50-80 years.

Habitat: Killer Whales are found in every ocean in the world as they can be found in tropical waters, including Costa Rica ,as well as arctic waters. They can be found near coastal waters, as well as deep waters.

Breeding/Reproduction: The breeding period for Orca whale vary from winter to start of spring and it is normally executed in warm waters. The gestation period is 16-17 months. The Calves are usually born between Octobers – March. Newly bon calf weighing approximately 400 pounds and measure from 6-8 ft long and they can swim along with their mothers within 30 minutes. Normally Orca females give birth to one calf. After birth, the calves are look after by their mothers and midwives for the period of twelve months and occasionally for a longer period until they take care of themselves.

Orca or Orcinus orca is a mammal which is a part of the family of Delphinidae in the order of Cetacea. This toothed whale is also better known as killer whales. They are mostly found in all oceans and open seas from the freezing waters of Antarctica and Arctic to the tropical and temperate water of Pacific like Costa Rica. In Costa Rica alone, these whales can be seen inhabiting the pacific coast to the southeast waters of Isla del Coco, some are also seen inhabiting the pacific coast of Ballena National Marine Park, Cahuita National Park, also in the waters of Golfo Dulce, Golfo de Papagayo, Gandoca-Manzanillo and Uvita and in the natural national parks.

One of physical attributes of an orca is their black colored back with chest and sides that are white as well as a small white spot on the upper side of the eyes as well as behind the eyes. Killer whales have a bulky and strong body. It has a big frontal fin which measures up to 2 meters tall. Their teeth are robust and wrapped by enamel with a jaw that has a powerful grip. Male is much bigger than females. They have a length of 20 to 26 feet long and weighs of more than 6 tones. While the female are 16 to 23 feet in length and 3 to 4 tones in weight. Male has also much bigger pectoral fins that look like paddles than female. Orcas are known to be social since they usually live in small pods or groups. They are very close to each other that they usually swim, play and hunt together. Also they protect the younger orca in the pod from predators. They are also known as fast swimmers. Since they were considered as the second heaviest brains in the mammal species, they were tending to be noted as intelligent creatures. They can be trained by humans.

Orca breeds mostly in the winter going to early spring usually in temperate waters. They usually carry a single offspring just one time in every five years. They carry their baby from about 16 to 17 months before giving birth. When the female give birth to its calf, it is still black but with patch of yellow or orange color but as they grow it will fade to white. A calf usually measure approximately 8 feet in length and weighs around 180 kilograms. Like most mammals, the baby is being nurtured through their mother’s milk.

These killer whales eats mostly fish but will include squids and even sea turtles in their sustenance. Also they fancy some birds like penguins and seagulls or other marine mammals like seals, sea lions, walrus and even other whales. When they hunt for food they usually hunt in groups that are the reason why they are also tagged as “wolves of the sea”. Orca has these distinct habits of doing acrobatic like leaping out of the water, slapping its tail or even holding their head above water or spy hopping. They also produce different sound to communicate from other whales like clicks, whistles and calls.

Orca are considered as an apex predator meaning they are on the top of the food chain. Mostly no animals or mammals usually threatened them but just humans. Whaling or whale hunting is also common in orcas. They were killed to get oils from their body. Also it was been foreseen that these species are considered threatened to extinction because of habitat loss due to pollution in water or oil leaks as well as these type of marine life are captured for the sake of entertainment in marine National parks of Costa Rica.

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