Social Behavior
Phylogenetic Tree


The Supreme Predator

Orca whales have no natural predators as adults.  They are the ultimate predator in the ocean, even beating out sharks.  Because they are at the top of the food web, their diet consists of almost anything you can think of: fish, porpoises, seals, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, whales, birds, sting rays, turtles, squid, etc.  One tool that they utilize to find their prey is echolocation.  Echolocation is a series of high frequency pulses sent out into the water.  When the pulses hit something, they bounce back to the Orcas, allowing them to interpret what is going on around them.  They hunt together in their pods, they also use noises generated in their nasal cavities to communicate with each other to plan out their attacks.    

Transient Orcas feed almost completely on warm blooded mammals.  They target the weakest member of the group.  They make long dives to probe up and down the shorelines, stalking their prey.  Because their prey are generally good hunters too, transients use less vocal communication so that the prey does not get scared away.  There are many ways that they can kill prey of all different types, but most commonly they like to completely surround their prey until it has no opportunity for escape.  They then take turns ramming the victim with their heads, taking large chunks of tissue and blubber out with their teeth.  They also use their flukes to throw their prey around.  Orcas are extremely good swimmers and can often out swim their prey to tire them.  Transients attacks are often 

Resident Orcas feed primarily on fish.  Residents make shorter dives.  Because their prey is hard to corner, they need to communicate much more to organize the attack.  They often surround the fish and herd them into a large ball.  They then take turns diving into the ball of fish to catch and swallow them.