There often comes as quite a big surprise to most people that there actually are actually different types of killer whales which inhabit the open sea waters of both the Pacific and the Alaskan oceans. Killer whales can differ in a number of ways from other types of whales, however some of these differences are fairly basic and only focus on the appearance of the different types of whales. Two of the more unique varieties of killer whales are the Balaenopsis and the Orca. Although the two have some basic differences which will be discussed in this article, they do have some similar characteristics which will be looked at.
The first of the two main varieties of whales which are the true killer whales is generally thought of by many people as the largest whale in the ocean. They are also believed to be one of the most cold blooded species in the animal kingdom. They spend most of their time at the surface of the water feeding on small fish species which are caught on their stringer. It is believed that the Balaenopsis whale has the ability to generate very strong sonar waves which are used for tracking. These strong waves are believed to help locate their prey even when the whale itself is not in the water.
The second of the two main types of whales which are the true Orcas is generally believed to be the second most largest predatory whale in the ocean. While they are not as cold blooded as the Balaenopsis, they are not warm blooded and instead travel in groups called pods. Pods of the Orca species tend to stay close to the shores of Alaska and Canada while pods which are farther offshore travel to different destinations like South America and South Pacific. A single Orca pod can contain up to 200 killer whales, although this statistic is much debated among researchers.
One of the other facts about killer whales which is more widely known is that these marine mammals belong to a class of marine mammals called Cetaceans. Other examples of cetaceans include the blue whales, the African killer whales and the Arctic seals. We can conclude that killer whales are the only cetaceans that gather in one place for feeding and breeding purposes during the year, although they do have some seasonal migratory patterns as well.
The three different types of killer whales – the Southern resident, the North Pacific Offshore and the Offshore Pacific Ecotype – differ mainly by diet. They differ in their use of baleen and talons in their meat recipes, whereas all the other ecotypes eat meat from scavenging alone. One curious fact about the Southern resident and the North Pacific Offshore ecotype whales is that although they feed exclusively on baleen, they are otherwise carnivores. This suggests that they are baleen whales which have specialized on feeding on meat alone.
Another interesting fact about these species is that they spend most of their time, approximately 90 % of the year, roaming the open oceans of central Asia, Alaska, Canada, the northern Pacific and central Russia. The only area in which they stop nesting is the coastal waters of Japan and Taiwan. Their migration periods are short, sometimes only a few weeks long. Apart from the well known orca, the other three types of whales may also be observed close to the coasts in Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan. A record number of twelve captive orcas was spotted in July-September 2021 in Tai Chi Oahu, Hawaii.