Adult killer whales are top-end predators and have no need to protect themselves from natural enemies. Killer whale calves are protected by their mothers and by other members of the pods to which they belong.
Killer whales are some of the most formidable animals in the sea because of their size, speed, teeth and intelligence. Males can reach 32 feet in length and weigh up to 9 tons, while females can be as long as 23 feet and weigh up to 4 tons. Both sexes have powerful jaws with 46 to 50 conical teeth. The teeth are pointed slightly inward toward the whale's throat, providing a good grip that keeps prey from escaping. Killer whales can swim at over 30 mph and use many different strategies to catch prey.