What do killer whales eat?
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Orcas of Puget Sound
Types of Whales
Killer whales or orca (Orcinus orca), the largest species in the dolphin family (Delphinidae), can grow to thirty feet in length and weigh over twenty thousand pounds.
Such a large animal must eat a lot of something. What exactly do they eat?
The easy, and comical punchline to the question would be, killer whales eat anything they want to eat. They are social mammals that live in pods and collectively hunt for any readily available food in the world's oceans.
During the late 1990s a video tape of killer whales attacking a great white shark emerged. Granted, the great white shark was a juvenile, however, the moral of the story suggests that when killer whales are hungry, all of the ocean's fish and sharks are fair game.
NOAA researches discuss the varied diets of killer whales and suggest that like humans, they enjoy a diet of local seafood.
Eastern North Pacific and Pacific Northwest Killer Whales: resident populations eat Chinook and chum salmon while transient populations consume Dall's porpoises, Pacific white-sided dolphins, California and Steller sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters and baleen whales.
Norwegian Killer Whales: Herring and other fish that congregate in large schools.
New Zealand killer whales: Stingrays and sharks.
Antarctic killer whales: Marine mammals, penguins, toothfish and additional fish species.
© 2008. Patricia A. Michaels