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Orcas/Killer Whales

Killer Whales, or Orcas, are actually the largest dolphin in the dolphin family.

They received the name killer whales because some very specific genetic groups, called transients, are known to kill whales. So the name was shortened from Killer of whales to Killer Whales. They are also called Orcas and it is fun to know that killer whales all over the world are very different and hunt different Prey.

In the Monterey Bay we are able to watch two types of Killer whales: Transients, marine mammal and bird predators; and Open Ocean Killer whales, who are fish and shark eaters.

There is nothing like the excitement and adrenaline that flows when hanging out with Killer whales weather they are traveling, hunting or doing social displays. They are here year round but sightings are unpredictable. We see the "Transient" types the most and this leads to opportunities of watching them hunt their favorite prey such as seals, sea lions, dolphins, and even the big whales.

Viewing an actual successful hunt is like finding a golden treasure but it does happen. We might see some of their hunting strategies such as "Body Slamming" or "Pouncing" like a cat on a mouse. Once the kill is over we are often treated to a wonderful social display put on by the Killer whales. They can get very excitable and begin to Spy Hop, Tail Slap, and leap about slamming their body's on the surface.

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