Orcas have been with us for countless centuries now. They are one of the most fearsome predators of our ocean. Although they may look like dolphin’s older brothers, they are quite the opposite for hunting. Dolphins and orcas are related to each other as they belong to the Delphinidae family. What sets the orcas apart is their sheer size.
If you are wondering where do orcas live, you are not alone. Almost all people ask these kinds of stuff as they are quite curious about these cute marine creatures. Killer whales are becoming more and more popular over the years as they are involved in various sea carnivals and exhibitions, but if you want to know their whereabouts, you have come to the right spot. In this article, we will be talking about orcas and where they live.
Everything About Orcas
Orcas, or commonly known as the Killer Whale, are one of the ocean’s apex predators. It is the largest type of species in the Delphinidae family or the family of dolphins. Killer whales can be found in all types of ocean waters globally, and in fact, they are one of the most well-distributed dolphin families on the planet. With their distinctive black and white appearance, they are easily one of the most recognizable creatures on the planet.
As a whole, killer whales have one of the most diverse diets, whether at sea or in coastal waters. Orcas are also great at hunting their food as they are much like a pack of wolves. They are often seen hunting together, foraging, and are smart when hunting their prey.
Before they were being hunted, the orca population was rising, but as commercial fishing was industrialized, their numbers were steadily declining in years. As a result, these giants are now protected and conserved by various laws and protection. Still, up to this very day, killer whales face many threats made by humans, from bycatch fishing, commercial fishing, global warming, ocean acidification, pollution, and many more.
Thankfully, the killer whales aren’t endangered. The only species of killer whales that are endangered are the Southern resident killer whales. Thanks largely to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, illegal fishermen and commercial fishers are penalized whenever they are seen intentionally catching killer whales.
Where do Orcas Live?
As mentioned, there’s a wide concentration of orcas around the world. However, they are abundant in cold waters as a food source. Cold waters from Alaska, Norway, and Antarctica, killer whales are also found in subtropical and tropical waters across the globe.
The resident killer whales are one of the most studied types of killer whales, and in those studies, they have relatively good numbers coasting off the shores of California down to Russia. However, of any community of killer whales, the offshore killer whales are the most abundant, and they may be seen from 9 miles offshore.
They are not entirely “offshore,” as they can be seen in coastal waters as well. On the other side, transient killer whales are commonly found in the Eastern north pacific, where their habitat sometimes coincides with tout killer whales species such as the Offshore and Resident Killer whales.
Reproduction and Lifespan
Aside from being on top of the food chain, orcas relatively live longer than their counterparts, and male orcas tend to live for about 30 to 35 years, whereas females live for about 50 years, but some orcas have lived long enough to reach 90 years of age.
At about 13 to 15 years of age, female orcas reach their sexual maturity during this age. Once they are fertilized, they are pregnant for up to 1½ years just to give birth to a single calf. After that, mother orcas tend to nurse their calf for a year or two and might remain for a few more years. There are no mating seasons in orcas, they can give birth any time of the year, and the birth rates of killer whales are not well understood up to this day.
Threats to Killer Whales
Like other marine creatures, killer whales aren’t exempted from various threats even though they are on top of the food chain. Man-made threats are still one of their problems. Commercial fishing is one of the threats killer whales face. Their sheer size and weight can easily be tangled up with fishing nets and gears that lead to their untimely demise.
Another threat to killer whales is overfishing and the loss of their habitat. As more and more people are commercially fishing, the source of food has gone sparse. Without enough food sources, this might lead to increased mortality rates and a decrease in reproductive rates.
The third threat to killer whales is disturbances from large vessels; whenever a large vessel is nearby, it tends to lure away their food source and disturbs their surrounding area because of their loud horns. Killer whales use sound to communicate with their other members, and when this is disrupted, it disturbs their ability to hunt efficiently as it drives away their prey.
Water pollution is another threat to killer whales; although there are some concerted efforts to minimize water pollution, it is still not eliminated. In addition, these contaminants still pester our marine environment and will continue for years if they aren’t solved and still pose a major threat to our marine life.
Orcas are one of the most important creatures on our planet, and they are on top of the food chain for many reasons. They can be found in various ocean waters globally but prefer cold waters around Antarctica, Norway, and Alaska.
Killer whales might not be endangered this day, but if these various threats they face, this might be the last of the killer whales we might see. Hopefully, with the information in this article about where do Orcas live, you will know more about what they are like. So, educate the people around you and do something in your little way to save not only orcas but our marine ecosystem as well.
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