The killer whale is the only modern representative of the genus of killer whales. Fossil remains of the second species of the genus of killer whales - Orcinus citoniensis - were discovered in Italy in 1883.
The killer whale should not be confused with the killer whale. The killer whale is a species of swallow.
Habitat of killer whales
The killer whale is a marine mammal of the dolphin family, the order of cetaceans, the suborder of toothed whales. The Latin name for the killer whale is Orcinus orca, which translates as "sea devil".
Orcs called killer whales once Pliny the Elder, who denoted by this word a certain sea monster.
The British call killer whale ("killer whale"). The killer whale received this name in the 18th century due to an incorrect translation of the Spanish name - assesina ballenas (killer of whales).
This name is justified, because killer whales really attack not only dolphins, but also whales.
The Russian name "killer whale" is supposedly derived from the word "scythe". The tall, dorsal fin of males does indeed resemble a scythe.
Alone, a killer whale cannot cope with such a giant, but having united in a flock, as they usually do, they are quite capable of defeating him. They try not to give the male whale the opportunity to rise to the surface, while the female, on the contrary, does not let the female sink to the bottom. Male sperm whales are avoided - because they are much stronger, and the jaws can inflict a fatal wound on the killer whale.
Usually, when the hunt is successful, killer whales eat out their eyes, throat and tongue. The hunt is attended by from 5 to 18 individuals, mostly males. Several families unite for this purpose.
Killer whales are the largest carnivorous dolphins, and differ from the latter in contrasting black and white coloration. The length of the male is 9-10 m, the weight is about 7.5 tons. The length of the female is 7 m and the weight is up to 4 tons. Killer whales are predators. The teeth of killer whales are massive, up to 13 cm long. The dorsal fin of the male reaches a height of 1.5 m. In females, the fin is half as low and curved.
Most of the killer whales live in tropical waters. But, it happens, they swim in the northern seas. In Russia, they can be seen near the Kuril ridge and the Komandirskie Islands. For example, killer whales do not swim in the Black and Azov Seas. Their appearance was not observed in the Laptev Sea either.
Each killer whale family has its own separate dialect that is used exclusively between members of the same family, and a language that is used by all killer whales.
There are resident killer whales and transit killer whales. "Resident" killer whales feed mainly on fish: herring, tuna, cod, molluscs and, very rarely, marine mammals. They are more "talkative" than "transit". Usually they drive the fish into a tight ball and drown them with blows of the tail.
"Transiting killer whales" listen to the sea more and never mate with "homebody killer whales." They are called the notorious "killer whales" that hunt dolphins, sea pinnipeds, seals, etc.
If, for example, seals are hiding from them on an ice floe, the killer whale swims under the ice floe and tries to throw the water off the seals with blows from below. There are even known cases of attacks on deer and elk.
Killer whale and man
In the manuals for submariners and divers it is said that when meeting with a killer whale, they have no chance of survival. In fact, not a single case is known of a killer whale attacking a person. Although, killer whales are not afraid of people, they even swim close to fishing ships.
Captive killer whales are another matter. It happened that killer whales attacked the trainer, although at the same time, being in captivity, they quickly get used to people. Even to dolphins and seals, which in nature are their potential prey, in captivity, being in the same pool, they are good-natured.
Killer whales are easy to train and gladly perform in front of visitors to oceanariums.