The killer orca whale, sometimes called a killer whale (or orca ) is a baleen whale – a large toothed whale, of the order Family Cetacea, with a head only slightly smaller than its dorsal fin. The word “killer” derives from its ability to kill, usually by drowning, when not held back by the ship’s crew. This ability dates back to at least the middle part of the eighteen-seventy-first century, and has led to the name killer in most English-speaking countries.
Killer whales are the most abundant baleen species in the ocean, and they tend to live in pairs, although a single individual may come in occasionally. The largest killer whales are approximately fourteen hundred pounds; the smallest ones are around two hundred pounds. The killer orca is a carnivore, eating anything small enough to swallow easily including fish, squid and lobsters.
As with all killer whales, the most distinctive characteristic of a killer whale is its head, which protrudes far out from its body. Apart from its large head, however, this feature is almost unnoticeable to the human eye. The most common way to recognize a killer whale is to look for a large black mark on the forehead, located just above the eyes. In addition, the surface of the skin between the eyes is highly sensitive to touch and will retract rapidly if handled roughly.
It is unusual that killer whales reach sexual maturity, because they reproduce very slowly (around two years old). Killer whales reach their reproductive age twice as fast as other hump-headed species. During these years, they give birth, giving birth usually to one baby, called a calf. Killer whales remain single until they mate again. After mating, the female gives birth to a single baby, which is called a calf.
Killer whales are the fourth-most prevalent species in the Indian Ocean and they make up nearly a third of the total population. These great blue creatures live in cool coastal waters in the central and southern parts of India. Killer whales are the only cetacean that leaves the water to breed, while others feed at the surface layer waiting for prey to come along. During the late spring and summer months, killer whales hunt for smaller bathers and take them to their den, where they nurse until the fall migration. When they return southward, they give up their young for the kill.
In India, as well as Australia, several islands constitute an important breeding area for killer whales. The population densities are lower than those found in the southern Pacific, but each island is home to only one orca. Offshore from these islands, several pod hunting expeditions have given rise to a healthy population of killer whales. There is even speculation that these killer whales could be a distinct species separate from the Orca, which accounts for the need for a separate name.