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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Killer Whale - Apex Predator of the oceans




Orca, also known as the Killer Whale, is the largest member of the dolphin family and is a favorite animal for whale watching groups all around the world. Both the male and female Killer Whales have a broad, rounded head and snout, an enlarged forehead, large, paddle-shaped pectoral fins and a large dorsal fin. However, males grow larger than females, and on reaching maturity become stockier and develop disproportionately larger fins, with adult males easily recognized by the tall, erect dorsal fin, which is the largest of any cetacean, growing to an impressive 6 feet in height. The female Orca, by contrast, has a more backward-curving dorsal fin , which grows to about 3 feet in height. An Orca’s dorsal fin and saddle patch are unique to each individual.

A number of different forms of Killer Whale have been identified, which specialize in different types of prey, differ in appearance, behavior and habitat use, do not associate with each other and are not known to interbreed. Studies have also revealed genetic differences between the different forms, and the Orca may therefore be split into a number of different subspecies or even distinct species in the near future. 

One of the best places to see Killer Whales is in Alaska. The cold, nutrient rich water supports a healthy ecosystem, which in turn supports a healthy fish population. The abundance of food attracts plenty of seals, sea otters, dolphins and whales. In turn, Orcas, the Apex Predators of the oceans are found quite frequently in large pods in Alaskan waters.  One of the best spots to photograph Killer Whales is Resurrection Bay.  A couple of years ago, I spent a few days on a small boat out in the Bay and took some great shots of these amazing animals after coming across a few large pods. The above photo (click on it to enlarge) is one of my favorite Killer Whales shots. The weather was rather poor, with light rain and very cloudy skies.  The whales were scattered and it was hard to concentrate on any particular individual.  Suddenly, I saw these three females in the distance swimming in unison. I was using the Canon 1D MK IV camera with the 400mm f/4 DO lens. It was just the right combo and I fired off a quick burst, just in the nick of time.  This "Fearsome Threesome" broke up right after I took this shot.  I consider myself very lucky to have photographed this image.

Read the Article on my website on where to go whale watching and tips on whale photography and see more exciting Killer Whales shots from Alaska and elsewhere. Don't forget to view the slide shows as well.


2 comments:

huynh kim Nga said...

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huynh kim Nga said...

Post a Comment On: Michael Daniel Ho - Wildlife Photographer