…Orcas can kill Great White Sharks. CA2, a 13-foot female from a California’s Transient pod known as “The LA Pod” killed an 11-foot Great White by first ramming it to stun it, and then grabbing it by the neck and flipping it onto its back and putting it into a state of tonic immobility. After holding it there for 15 minutes she finally finished the kill, then paraded the dead shark in front of a boatload of open-mouthed tourists.
…An adult Orca’s dorsal fin can be up to 6 feet tall!
…Males can weigh up to 22,000 pounds (10,000 kg)!
…Females can weigh up to 16,500 pounds (7500 kg)!
…Males can grow to a length of 32 feet (10 meters)!
…Females can grow to a length of 28 feet (8.5 meters)!
…If beached or stranded, Orcas can only live on land for about 24 hours. After that, their skin and organs begin to overheat and dry out. Also, if sitting on land and out of the water, an Orca’s massive body weight begins to crush its own organs because of the lack of buoyancy to hold it up.
…Orcas can live up to (and over!) 100 years in the wild. In captivity, they rarely make it past their teens. Amazingly, Lolita, who is surviving in captivity at Miami’s Seaquarium has made it to 43 years. The average female life span in the wild is 50-60 years (but they can live up to 100!). The average male has a lifespan of 30-60 years, often quite a bit less than females. “Our” Southern Resident whale, Granny (J-2) is the oldest known orca in the world. She was born in 1911 and turned 104 this year (2015).
…Orca “families” are made up of Mothers and their children. Often uncles and aunts will join a pod (if they outlive their own pods or cannot have offspring of their own). Children stay by their Mother’s side all of their lives. They are carefully trained, protected and socialized in these tightly-knit groups, the bonds of which only seem to strengthen throughout life. Because females can live up to 90 years, as many as four generations can travel together, led by their “granny”.
…Orcas can hold their breath underwater for up to fifteen minutes. Typically, Orcas breach every four or five minutes, but longer dives have been documented between 12 and 15 minutes.
…There are 3 Main “Types” of Orca: Resident, Transient and Offshore. Resident Whales travel in tightly-knit pods, regularly visit “home” waters and predominantly eat fish, ocassionaly squid. Transient Whales travel great distances, sometimes swimming up to 100 miles per day and eat marine mammals, sometimes even dolphin, shark and stingrays. Offshore Whales travel in small groups and feed on schooling fish but are also suspected to eat marine mammals.
...All Orca pod members participate in the nurturing, feeding and protecting of the young. Aunts, Uncles and Grandmothers all take turns as calf babysitters.
…Sonar (such as that from a Navy frigate) can actually harm Orcas and other marine life! In 2000, 14 Beaked whales washed up onshore in the Bahamas the day that the US Navy began Sonar exercises in the area. Examinations of the whales revealed signs of decompression illness, such as brain hemorrhaging and bleeding around the head and ears. During incidents of Sonar usage in the Pacific Northwest, Orcas have even been observed moving in a disoriented manner, staying near the surface and attempting to lift their heads out of the water to escape the Sonar noise (their ears are on the sides of their heads).
…Orcas are actually the largest dolphins on the planet.