Not much is known about Orca
reproduction. Most that we know about their reproduction is from
research in captivity since sexual activity in the wild is rarely seen.
From what we can tell, we know that they generally participate in
playful, social activities before mating. Males become sexually
mature at ten to thirteen years of age and females at six to ten years.
The female picks a male that she will mate with. There is little
known about why she picks who she picks except that it may have
something to do with size. Because Orcas live in pods with their
close relatives, they cannot mate within their pods. Their pods
are associated within communities (see more in social behavior), and
they mate with pods most distantly related that still in the same
community. They usually mate with a different male or female every
time they mate. They do not have a particular mating season, but
mating does occur slightly more often during summer.
Orcas have a gestation period that lasts
between 16 and 18 months. Once their child is born, it is attached
to his or her mother. The child will usually swim slightly beneath
the mother The mother will nurse her child for as long as three years.
The child will swim between the mothers stomach and genital region.
This allows the mother to keep close watch on her child as they are
always touching. This position also allows the baby to nurse as
needed. Most children will not ever leave their mothers.
They will stay with their mothers and become a member of the pod.