why do they call them killer whales

The of the world are with. From the cold Arctic seas to the warm waters of the tropics, the number and variety of species that live in the world's oceans boggles the mind. Since we live on land, humans are often
of the constant -and-death battles waged below the. Complex chains exist in the oceans with algae and plankton at the bottom of the chain and the world's largest fishes and mammals at the top. In fact, the oceans are home to perhaps the most fierce predator on Earth. It's a killing machine with no natural predators that feeds on most anything that comes across its path, including, sea birds, seals, and even and.


If you've ever seen an awesome black-and-white beast with long, sharp teeth, then you already know what we're talking about: killer whales! Killer whales are also known as orcas, a name that comes from their scientific name: Orcinus orca. Although they're not considered a danger to humans in the, killer whales will eat just about anything else that crosses their path. They have a huge range, living anywhere from the Arctic to waters near the. In addition to, killer whales will hunt other animals in coastal waters, such as seals and sea birds. They're also not afraid to take on the other large creatures they share the oceans with, including squid, octopuses, sea turtles, sharks, and other whales.


The to take on other whales is where their name comes from. Long ago, sailors referred to these massive creatures as "whale killers. " Eventually that nickname changed to killer whale. In Spanish, they're referred to as ballena asesina, which means " whale. " The name killer whale is still a bit deceptive, though. Scientifically, they're classified as a toothed whale that's actually a member of the family ( Delphinidae ). They're the largest member of the oceanic dolphin family, which also includes dolphins and pilot whales.


Killer whales rule the sea thanks to their impressive physical characteristics. They can grow to be nearly as long as a school bus and weigh up to 12,000 pounds. They also possess a mouth full of sharp teeth that can grow to be four inches long. Killer whales are very animals that live in groups called pods. Pods can have as many as 40 members that stick together to hunt for. Like the dolphins they're related to, killer whales use to communicate with each other. Dolphins, including orcas, are the only marine mammals that make extensive use of echolocation to hunt for prey and navigate their ocean home.


Some marine biologists have hypothesized they also emit intense bursts of sound to stun their prey for easier capture. When they are swimming, orcas and other dolphins make low frequency sounds that reflect back to them, helping them understand the topography of the ocean floor and the shoreline, as well as alerting them to the presence of large animals or underwater obstacles. When exploring in more detail or hunting for prey, a series of clicks focused through their melons provides a more vivid three-dimensional picture.

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