What Are Some Facts About Killer Whales?


Quick Answer

Killer whales are not actually whales; they are the largest dolphin species. The name "killer whale" comes from the transposed nickname "killer of whales" Spanish hunters gave to these dolphins in the 1700s.

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Full Answer

Killer whales hunt in pods, which are family groups of up to 40 members. Because of this, they are called the wolves of the sea. Killer whales hunt seals, fish, sea otters, squid, birds, stingray and even whales. Killer whales use echolocation to communicate with pod members and locate their food. They make noises as they swim until they receive an echo striking off an object and bouncing back to them. By doing this, they are able to determine the location, size and even shape of an object or prey. Once they find their prey, killer whales use their heads and tails to deliver a blow and knock them out. An adult male killer whale can eat 220 pounds of food a day; this is equal to 4 seal pups. Killer whales average about 19 feet in length, although some have been found to be over 30 feet long and weighing as much as 22,000 pounds. On average, a killer whale lives for 50 to 80 years.

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