Social Behavior
Phylogenetic Tree



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.