Airborne Orcas Bargain Notecard

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Airborne Orcas (Orcinus orca)

Two breaching orcas slice through the moist Pacific air for just a moment before crashing back into the waves.  Moments later, beneath the water, their haunting cries echo off the steep walls of the fjord.  These calls, sometimes heard from the decks of fishing vessels, are used to coordinate the movements of the closely-knit pod of orcas.  Comprising from a few to thirty whales, family units or pods of orcas aggressively hunt fish, squid, seals, dolphins, and even the huge baleen whales.

Orcas, or “killer whales,” are the speedsters among whales, attaining speeds of 26 knots.  They are also remarkably agile.  Orca pods travel in continuous motion day and night.  Females are the core of the group, averaging 27 feet long, weighing 5 to 6 tons and are believed to live as long as a century.  Newborn calves average 8 feet long and weight about 400 pounds.  A bull can measure as much as 32 feet long and weigh 9 or 10 tons.  Worldwide in distribution, orcas range north and south to polar ice especially near coasts.

artwork by Bernard C. Scott ©1993
text by Steve Sierigk

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