image gallery
Mar. 26 - 2020
Killer whales or Orcas are probably the best known of the whales thanks to the distinctive black and white patterning that distinguishes them.

Ph Credits: @lina.grube

They are toothed whales (Odontocetes) placed at the very top of the Antarctic food chain. They eat  krill, squid, fish and sharks as well as penguins, seals and even the much larger baleen whales. Ever ready to spot an opportunity, killer whales will even follow ice-breakers at the start of the season as they cut paths through the ice to reach deeper into the ice sometimes to catch seals and penguins that were beyond their reach.

They are found in almost all oceans, from the tropics to the Arctic and Antarctic where they will go deep into the pack-ice to hunt seals and penguins. They are commonest in coastal waters and in cool temperate and subpolar seas.

Ph credits: @edgar_pacific_photography

Killer whales are very social animals living in family groups known as matrilineal groups. They form the most stable family groups of any animal species.

There are three distinct types that are very similar but differ most of all in their behaviour. These three types are :

Residents - They tend to be mainly fish eaters which they are thought to catch with the help of echolocation. Their dorsal fins are more rounded at the top compared to the transients that have more pointed dorsal fins.

Photo credits: @erindunglinson

Transients - Move around more, they tend to feed on mainly seals.Their hunting pods have less members than residents and are not so loyal.

Offshore - The least of all is known about these (as they live mainly offshore) but they form large pods and move following the edge of the continental shelves.

Ph credits: @ailuj_1989

Type C's are a population that live in the Ross Sea in Antarctica, they are thought to feed almost exclusively on Antarctic cod. In the immediate foreground is a non-native Antarctic species getting a whale selfie.

Like all whales, sound is very important to killer whales. Researchers have even identified unique sounds and discrete calls that are distinctive to certain pods and family groups, to the extent that killer whale dialects can be identified.

Stay tuned for more information regarding cruises and news of Antarctica  wildlife. If you need our assistance please contact us!


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