The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka


Animal Families

After 17 months in her mother’s womb, the orca calf comes into the world, tail first. When she grows up, she will become one of the most
terrifying predators in the ocean, but for now the calf needs her mother desperately. The female orca gently helps the calf swim to the
surface so she can take her first breath.

Despite their fearsome reputations, orcas or killer whales (scientific name is Orcinus orca) are very protective of their young.  It’s not just her mother looking out for her – other young females in the ‘pod’ or family group help raise the calves.

At birth, the calf is already 8 feet long – if she stood on her tail fluke, she’d tower above you. However, she still has a lot of growing to do. Female killer whales can grow up to 26 feet! (The males tend to be about two feet longer.) Still, it isn’t their size that makes killer whales the greatest predators in the ocean – it’s their intelligence and teamwork.

Orcas are sometimes called the ‘wolves of the sea’ because they live and hunt together in pods. Different killer whale pods have their own sounds – they can recognize each other from several miles away. Their ability to communicate so effectively means they work very well together – groups of orcas can synchronise to generate waves that will knock a seal off an ice floe or cooperate to herd fish into easy snack-sized schools.
They are great hunters, eating everything from fish to penguins.

In the water, a fish can have trouble spotting an orca on the hunt – the killer whale’s white belly blends in perfectly with the light streaming down from the surface of the ocean.

Humans are an orca’s only real enemies – these clever hunters will even make a meal of much bigger whales. When an orca swallows, he won’t even chew his food. Instead, that tasty sea lion just slides down the orca’s throat in one whole chunk.
You can find orcas in every ocean around the world, but are most common in Arctic and Antarctic waters. As a pod approaches, you’re likely to see the dorsal fin on their backs first. Male orcas have tallest dorsal fins of any whale – some are up to 6 feet high!

Share This Post

comments powered by Disqus

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.