killer whale Pictures

 
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Killer Whale Photos Showing This Largest Member of the Dolphin Family

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The Killer Whale or Orca, Orcinus orca, is the largest species of dolphin. They are found in all oceans, but they prefer cooler temperate and polar regions, and inhabit mostly the coastal regions. On rare occasions they have been know to swim into large freshwater rivers.

Killer whales are easily recognized by their distinctive black and white markings. They have a heavy stocky body and a large dorsal fin. Males can grow to 25 feet and weigh more than 13,000 pounds. Females reach 22 feet and weigh around 9,000 pounds. At birth, calves weigh around 400 pounds and around 7 feet long. Females and juveniles, seen at a distance, can sometimes be confused with false killer whales.

Killer whales are among the fastest marine mammals, often reaching speeds of 35 miles per hour. A pod will hunt as a pack and they are called the apex predator of the marine world. They feed on a wide variety of prey, including fish, rays, sea lions, seal, walrus, sharks, cephalopods, sea turtles, penguins, sea birds, and whales. They are highly social and live in family groups that exhibit sophisticated social, hunting and vocal behavior. Among their cooperative hunting techniques is wave-hunting, where the killer whale pod finds a seal resting on an ice floe and swims in groups to create large waves to wash the seal into the ocean where it can be killed. They, like most dolphin, are highly vocal and produce a wide variety of clicks and whistles for communication and echolocation. Pods tend to have their own dialects and mothers have been observed training their young in the pod’s dialect.

Wild killer whales are not considered a threat to people. However, captive killer whales have been reported attacking and, in at least one case, killing their handlers at marine theme parks. The killer whales beautiful appearance, huge size, and intelligence have made it a popular exhibit at theme parks. This practice is highly controversial and many conservation organizations campaign against the captivity of killer whales. In captivity, killer whales develop physical pathologies such as dorsal fin collapse, and live in small tanks, false social groupings and chemically altered water. This has led to severely reduced life expectancy, and stress-induced aggressiveness towards themselves, other killer whales and people.

The plight of killer whales in captivity went to the big screen with the movie Free Willy, which starred a captive killer whale called Keiko, who was rescued in 1996 and eventually found limited freedom first in Iceland and then in Halsa, Norway. After so many years in captivity, Keiko was never able to learn how to hunt for his own food and needed food provided. He eventually died of pneumonia while in the wild in December 2003, at 27 years old.

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Picture of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, breaching, San Juan Islands, Washington, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 009067

Stock photo of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, male at sunset, Patagonia, Argentina, South Atlantic

Picture #: 001828

Image of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, breaching, San Juan Islands, Washington, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 002568

Photo of Keiko the Free Willy killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, breaching, in the wild, Klettsvik Bay, Iceland

Picture #: 002627

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Picture of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, spyhopping in pack ice, Ross Sea, Antarctica

Picture #: 009273

Stock photo of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, Patagonia, Argentina, South Atlantic

Picture #: 001829

Image of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, lunging at high speed, Gulf of Mexico

Picture #: 008253

Photo of killer whales, orca, Orcinus orca, breaching, digital composite

Picture #: 007285

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Picture of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, breaching, at sunset, digital composite

Picture #: 007286

Stock photo of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, spyhopping, British Columbia, Canada, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 002559

Image of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, and calf, Norway, North Atlantic Ocean

Picture #: 001795

Photo of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, breaching, Pacific Northwest

Picture #: 001830

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Picture of a killer whale pod, orca, Orcinus orca, with three large males, British Columbia, north east Pacific

Picture #: 002993

Stock photo of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, in kelp forest, British Columbia, Canada, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 001793

Image of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, attacking sea lion pup, Patagonia, Argentina. South Atlantic

Picture #: 001797

Photo of killer whales, orca, Orcinus orca, baby spyhopping next to mother, Haro Strait, San Juan Islands, Washington, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 002683

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Picture of Keiko the Free Willy killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, spyhopping, in the wild, Klettsvik Bay, Iceland

Picture #: 002628

Stock photo of killer whales, orca, Orcinus orca, New Zealand, South Pacific

Picture #: 070988

Image of killer whales, orca, Orcinus orca, pair double spyhopping, British Columbia, Canada, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 000205

Photo of a killer whale, orca, Orcinus orca, breaching, San Juan Islands, Washington, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 009065

 

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