(Photo found here)
The orca or killer whale is a toothed whale and is the largest member of the dolphin family. There are 3 distinct species of these warm blooded, air breathing mammals: Resident Killer Whales, Transient Killer whales, and Off-shore Killer Whales. The main factors which set each species apart are - social behavior, physical appearance, preferred food, and vocal dialects. Killer whales live in cohesive long-term social units called pods. The size of a pod usually varies from fewer than 5 to about 30 individuals. Pods usually consist of males, females, and calves of varying ages. A pod is not the smallest or largest social group in a killer whale community. Researchers have identified the most fundamental social units in a resident pod as maternal groups. A maternal group consists of a mother and her offspring (not including adult daughters with offspring of their own). One or more maternal groups may travel together in a subpod. Whales in a subpod are likely to be closely related; a subpod contains mothers and daughters, and probably sisters and cousins. A clan is a social level above the pod level. Clans are made up of pods in an area with similar dialects and are thought to be related. Finally, the top level of the killer whale social structure is a community composed of several pods that have been seen traveling together. Sometimes smaller pods may join to form groups of 50 or more individuals (up to 500 in some cases) which are sometimes referred to as herds or aggregations.
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