Orca Whale in an Aquarium?
ORCA Whale Facts: Did you know…
- Orcas are the largest member of the dolphin family!
- Southern Resident Orcas, like Lolita, are an endangered species.
- Female orcas can weigh up to 7,000 pounds and can grow up to 24 feet long.
- Males may weigh up to 9,000 pounds and can grow to be 27 feet long.
- A male orca’s dorsal fin can become up to 7 feet tall, while a female’s dorsal can grow up to 3 feet tall!
- Each orca has 40-56 conically shaped three-inch long teeth in their mouths.
- Each orca has a unique dorsal fin and saddle patch, just like a human fingerprint, used to identify them!
- Orcas can dive 500 feet below the water’s surface and swim at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.
- Orcas have excellent eyesight above and below the water. They may have brown or blue eyes. (Lolita has blue eyes.)
- Orcas are found in every ocean.
- Orcas have a brain that is five times the size of a human brain. They are very intelligent beings; they solve problems and use tools.
In the Wild:
- Orcas stay with their mothers (and pod) for their entire lives.
- Each family pod has their own unique language.
- Males generally live 40-50 years, while females live 50-80 years.
- Orcas travel an average of 75-100 miles a day.
- Their smooth blubbery skin feels like a wet rubber ball.
- Orcas eat 100-300 pounds of food per day!
- “Resident orcas”, like Lolita, feed only on fish and primarily on salmon. “Transient orcas” consume seals and other marine mammals.
- No aquarium pool can come close to comparing with the vast and engaging natural habitat of the orca.
- Orca lifespans in captivity are greatly reduced, usually not living past their teen years.
- More than 190 orcas have died due to captivity since 1961, whether in the violent capture process or in the tank itself.
- Their dorsal fins often flop over. The cartilage bends from swimming around in constant tight circles.
- Cetaceans may “go crazy” in captivity due to their own echolocating. Sonar sounds bounce off the tank walls and back at them since there is nothing to absorb it.
- Marine mammals have been known to commit suicide in captivity because of frustration and lack of stimuli .
- Captive orcas have attacked and even killed their own trainers, as well as park guests. On the other hand, wild orcas have never harmed a human.
- Lolita is the last surviving orca captured from the Southern Resident Pods. At least 50 other orcas, from the same community, have died in captivity or from the captures.
Remember: You can go home after the show, but they cannot.
Information Sources: Orca Network, The Whale Museum, Humane Society of the United States, World Society for the Protection of Animals, The Rose-Tinted Menagerie, and the American Cetacean Society.