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1. . Possibly the most recognisable species of marine mammal, the orca (also known as the killer whale) is actually a dolphin and it is the largest species of the dolphin family growing up to 7.7m in length.
2. The name killer whale derives from their original name 'whale killers' given to them by sailors who saw them hunting whales. Over time, the name reversed and stuck.
3. They can live for many years. An average life span is estimated at 50-80 years but some have been estimated to live over 100 years of age!
4. Like all dolphins, orca are highly intelligent animals and have been shown to live in social family groups where food sharing, mourning and caring of each other's calves have been observed.
5. They have been documented to travel over 100km a day - that's alot of moving around!
6. Orca can be seen all over the world and different populations have been found to have their own cultures due to differences in diet, behaviour and vocalisations.
7. New Zealand orca have a varied diet and have learnt to specialise on sharks and rays and because of this they are highly coastal animals, tracing the outline of the coast in search for food.
8. The killer whale/orca is a Nationally Endangered species in New Zealand with less than 200 animals travelling around the entire country.
9. New Zealand orca appear to be split into 3 sub-populations: ones that travel only around the North Island, ones that travel only around the South Island and ones that travel around both islands.
10. At different times of the year, orca are not seen in certain parts of the country. However, in Auckland, orca can be seen in every month and season as they pass through the area.
To find out more head to www.whalewatchingauckland.com.
Written: 10 articles
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