Killer Whales are probably the largest apex predator on the planet, and in Costa Rica they can be observed hunting all kinds of animals on the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts.
Orcas are distributed in every ocean of the world, and can be found north to south in tropical, temperate and polar waters. They inhabit the epipelagic and mesopelagic zones of the ocean, and have been recorded diving to depths of 259 meters. In Costa Rica they can be spotted at Corcovado National Park, Golfito National Wildlife Refuge, Marino Ballena National Park, Cahuita National Park and Gandoca-Manzanilla National Wildlife Refuge.
Mating & Reproduction
Females reach sexual maturity between the ages of 7 and 16 years old, whereas males become sexually mature at 10 to 17 years of age. Females exhibit estrus (heat) a few times throughout the year, and there is no set breeding period. The gestation period is around 15 to 18 months. After gestation has ended, mothers typically give birth to a single calf, and the calf doesn’t wean until about 18 months have passed. Newborns usually weigh around 2.6 meters and weigh around 130 kilograms at birth.
Killer Whales use a variety of sounds to communicate with each other as they travel in packs in the sea. The packs are known as pods, but orcas are often referred to as the wolves of the sea. This is because of their hunting method. They hunt as a group, and will often look for seals, sea turtles, otters, penguins, sea birds, octopi, mammals and fish. They are particularly skilled at hunting other sea mammals.
Killer Whales have the second largest brain of any creature on the planet behind Sperm Whales. Their intelligence is not measured in the same terms as other animals, because of the environment that they inhabit. They teach their young and imitate other animals which showcases a higher level of aptitude.
Where to see it in Costa Rica: Corcovado National Park, Golfito National Wildlife Refuge, Marino Ballena National Park, Cahuita National Park, Gandoca-Manzanilla National Wildlife Refuge
Diet: seals, sea turtles, otters, penguins, sea birds, octopi, mammals, fish
Habitat: bays, estuaries, river mouths, tropical waters, temperate waters, polar waters
Size: length=7-9 m weight=4-6 tons (males are larger than females)
Species: Orcinus orca