This Killer Uses Sound to Find Its Supper

by Rebekah Severson, age 15

Although the orca’s sleek black and white body makes it appear harmless, a flash of its vicious teeth inspires fear even in the mightiest onlooker. One of the most formidable predators of the sea, it is also known as the killer whale. Weighing more than 13,230 pounds and swimming at over 31 miles per hour, this deadly mammal is a force to be reckoned with.

The orca is the only whale in the world that hunts other warm-blooded animals. Claiming the lives of sea creatures as large as blue whale calves, the orca definitely uses its physical attributes to its advantage. Its 20 to 26 cone-shaped teeth curve both backward and inward, allowing it to easily seize and tear apart its prey.

While hunting, it can discover the direction and range of its next potential meal using echolocation. It does this by producing sounds from a nasal plug in its air passages, then analyzing the echoes that bounce back when the beam of sound hits an object. The orca also uses its large powerful tail while hunting. By whipping the water to produce ear-piercing signals, it can immobilize entire schools of fish.

The orca, among the “toothed whales,” is found in every ocean around the world. Although it prefers coastal and cooler waters, the orca has the widest distribution of any other whale.

Beware; these creatures feast upon fish, squids, seals, other whales, and maybe even you. Looks may be deceiving, especially in the case of the orca, or killer whale.

[Source: The Encyclopedia of Animals]