Everything you wanted to know about killer whales but were afraid to ask, including: brain size, travelling speed and communication methods.
As a holiday destination, British Columbia is hard to beat. Combining spectacular scenery with jaw dropping glimpses of grizzly bears, whales, elks, deer, moose and seals, British Columbia is an ideal holiday destination for your bucket list.
It’s also a great place for activity holidays. One of the most popular excursions is the chance to get up close and personal with Orca whales in your very own kayak. Interested? Can’t say I blame you.
Before you go, check out our facts on Orcas. Not only will you understand more about these majestic mammals, you’ll be able to impress all of your travelling companions with your incredible knowledge.
- Orca whales are actually the largest dolphins in existence, weighing anything up to 12,000 lbs and measuring up to 30 feet or more in length.
- As it is with humans, so with the whales. A female whale can live up to the grand old age of 90 in the wild with the males managing around 50 to 60 years. Sadly, it’s bad news for captive Orcas of either sex; the average life expectancy for whales in captivity is only around 20 years. Something to ponder next time you head to Orlando’s Sea World.
- As you’ll see (or hear) for yourself during your kayaking experience, Orca whales vocalise to communicate with each other. The clicks and grunts are unique to each pod.
- The brains of Orcas are five times larger than a human brain.
- Orcas are often referred to as ‘killer whales’ but not because they kill humans. On the rare occasions that Orcas have attacked humans, it’s been whales held in captivity. The ‘killer whale’ name emanates from the fact that they feed on other dolphins and smaller whales.
- Orcas spend the majority of the time looking for food. During your whale watching experience you’ll probably see them diving as they forage. On occasions some Orcas have been known to travel hundreds of miles in search of fresh food. They need it; Orcas devour 5% of their own body weight on a daily basis – that’s a whopping 500 lbs of food every single day.
- Orca whales are one of the fastest sea creatures and can travel at speeds of up to 30 mph. That’s faster than the average speed on the M25 surely.
- Pods of Orcas tend to keep themselves to themselves and only occasionally socialise with other pods. They also breed with other whales within their own pods, although not those closely related to them (how can they tell?!)
- In answer to our last question, every Orca has a unique mark behind its dorsal fin giving it unique features. It helps researchers to identify them.
- A final fascinating fact about the Orca whales is that the entire pod breathes in unison. What’s more, the ‘spray’ emitted from their blowhole through which they breathe is in fact a jet of carbon dioxide which escapes as a mist.
A whale watching tour is also an easy option to incorporate into sailing holidays abroad too. You can either bring your own kayak or hire one from a local tour company (or from your own tour operator).
Additional Points to Keep In Mind
Sometimes, for whatever reasons, you won’t see the whales. Sometimes they don’t want to come out to play no matter how long we may loiter in our kayaks.
It can be cold out at sea in your kayak. Take the advice of your tour operator and wear layers, waterproof clothing, sturdy shoes and sunscreen!
The combination of British Columbia topped off with a whale watching tour couldn’t be better – and now you know all you need to know about Orcas to impress your friends. We couldn’t let you go without adding one final point.
Whatever you do, don’t forget your camera!
Kate Smedley continually attempts to impress her friends with in-depth knowledge of killer whales and activity holidays