Killer whales can reach 28 mph in short bursts. Their speed allows them to catch many kinds of prey, including seals, sea lions, dolphins and other whales, sharks, otters and sea birds.
Killer whales have physical and behavioral adaptations for speed. They are streamlined with powerful flukes. The layer of blubber beneath a whale's skin smooths its contours, reducing drag. Killer whales routinely leap in and out of the water when swimming at the surface, saving energy during each leap through the air. They also ride ocean swells or waves generated by ships. Calves keep up with the pod by riding in their mothers' slipstreams, where swimming is easier.