On Dive Report we list whale and dolphin species in our animal calendar, but please be aware that with Orcas this does not necessarily mean that you can easily dive with them in the locations listed. We have included them as there is a chance of them being spotted from the boat in transit or between dives, which is still exciting adding to the overall dive trip experience.
Orcas, also called killer whales, are actually not whales. They belong to the oceanic dolphin family, the largest ones. Killer whales were so named by Spanish sailors who observed them killing grey whales. In some parts of the world, it is illegal to interact with wild orcas.
Male orcas average 6 to 7 meters in length while females average 5 to 6 meters long. Orcas can reach up to 5,500 kg. Female orcas tend to live longer than males, up to 90 years old; where as males live about 50 years. Found in all the world's oceans, from the Arctic and Antarctic to the tropics, killer whales divide into three subspecies that do not intermingle. Resident whales navigate along coastal passages feeding exclusively on fish; transient whales inhabit the same waters but are markedly less social and more aggressive; offshore whales live in large groups of 30-60 or more.
Orcas hunt everything from fish to walruses, seals, sea lions, penguins, squid, sea turtles, sharks, and even other kinds of whales. Depending on the season and where they are, their diet varies. Some orcas eat more fish and squid than seals and penguins. But wherever they are in any of the world's oceans, average-sized orcas may eat about 500 pounds (227 kilograms) of food a day.
In 2008, the IUCN changed its assessment of the killer whale's conservation status from conservation dependent to data deficient, recognizing that one or more killer whale types may actually be separate, endangered species. A scientist by the name of Ken Balcomb discovered that U.S Navy sonar may harm killer whales. Many scientists noted increased boat traffic, water toxic wastes, and low salmon population as major threats putting approximately 87 killer whales on the British Columbia Coast in danger.
More detailed information about Orcas (Killer Whales) can be found here.
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