Killer Whale called Orca -are no more killers

Killer whale

Killer whale are no more killers than any other kind of cetacean, and technically they belong to the dolphin family, so many people prefer to use the alternative name of Orca

The sight of an adult male killer whale cutting through the water is one that most people will never forget. Their sheer size and bulk is awe-inspiring: the largest can be up to nine metres long, with a maximum weight of 10 tonnes. Their dorsal fins can be 1.8 metres tall – around the height of an adult human. The striking black and white colouration of killer whales also means that there is little possibility of confusing them with any other cetaceans.

Killer whales are found in both shallow coastal waters and in deeper water to the north and west of Scotland. They live in organized and highly social groups known as pods. In Scottish coastal waters these groups tend to have up to eight members, but in deeper, offshore waters they may contain up to 100 animals. The oldest female is usually the dominant animal in the pod, and strong bonds are maintained between mothers and their offspring are found in both shallow coastal waters and in deeper water to the north and west of Scotland. They live in organized and highly social groups known as pods. In Scottish coastal waters these groups tend to have up to eight members, but in deeper, offshore waters they may contain up to 100 animals. The oldest female is usually the dominant animal in the pod, and strong bonds are maintained between mothers and their offspring.

The value of these bonds can be seen most obviously in the way a pod of killer whales hunts. Different pods have preferences for different types of food. Some specialize in catching schooling fish, such as herring and mackerel, often in large pods; others target seals or small cetaceans, usually by hunting in smaller groups. Although some prey may be caught by individual whales, pod members work closely together to herd and eventually capture their prey. When hunting, communication between individuals, using a variety of honks and screams, is vital to ensure that they work together effectively and leave no room for prey to escape. Some killer whales have been seen playing with their food, in particular, tossing both seals and porpoises into the air, an activity which is thought to be a way of teaching their young to hunt. The best chance of seeing killer whales in Scottish waters is when pods come closer inshore between April and September around the Western Isles, the west mainland, and the Northern Isles.