Orcas are extremely fascinating large black and white mammals who rule any body of water they live in. You may have heard about Orcas attacking other animals and even occasionally humans — so you may be curious about how much damage their bite can actually do.
Orcas have an estimated bite force of 19,000 PSI which means they are at the top of the ocean food chain and can take down anything that comes into its path. However, although Orcas spend most of their time hunting for food, they are not typically overly aggressive mammals and won’t generally bother with some other types of sea creatures.
In the wild, Orcas live an average of 30 to 50 years — with female Orcas occasionally living up to 100 years old. In captivity, this number is much lower — Orcas typically only live about 17 to 29 years. And there are many more interesting facts about Orcas including how they use their teeth as well as how they compare to sharks and other animals.
How Strong Is An Orca’s Bite?
It’s difficult to get an exact measurement of how hard an orca can bite, but it’s estimated that its bite force is an incredible 19,000 PSI (Pounds per square inch). To put this into perspective, the dog with the highest bite force (the Kangal) has a bite force of 743 PSI. This bite force can vary depending on the size, age, and sex of the Orca doing the biting, as well as how it is measured.
How Sharp Are Orca’s Teeth?
The large teeth of an Orca are conical (cone-shaped) and interlocking. These teeth are very sharp however they are not meant to use to simply chew food — they’re meant to rip the food apart into smaller chunks the Orca can simply swallow.
How Many Teeth Does An Orca Whale Have?
Orcas have teeth lining both their upper and lower jaws — they have 48 to 52 teeth in total! Orcas have 10 – 14 large teeth on either side of their jaw on both the upper and lower jaws. Their teeth start to grow in when they are just a few weeks old and will have their complete set of full-grown teeth by the time they are about 11 or 12 weeks of age.
How Big Are Orca’s Teeth?
Orcas have 48 to 52 teeth and all of them grow to be about four inches long. They are quite sharp in addition to being large for their size.
Do Orcas Teeth Grow Back?
Orcas only get one set of teeth in their lifetime, so any teeth they happen to lose will not be replaced. Since their teeth are large and they have quite a strong base, they don’t lose them too easily. So, most Orcas will retain most of their teeth throughout their lifetime.
Orca Teeth vs Shark Teeth
Although they may seem similar, Orcas and Sharks are quite different, and one main difference is the number of teeth they have as well as how they use them.
Orca Teeth. Orcas have only one set of roughly 50 teeth and they use these sharp, strong teeth to rip their food apart before they swallow the chunks whole.
Shark Teeth. Sharks have many rows of teeth — so they can have a few hundred up to a few thousand teeth! Sharks continuously lose their teethby biting and chewing (losing around 100 teeth a day is not uncommon!) but there are always new teeth ready to replace them. Sharks use their triangular-shaped, razor-sharp teeth to kill, rip apart, and chew up their prey.
Are Killer Whales And Orcas The Same Thing?
Orcas are commonly referred to as killer whales and the names are often used interchangeably — even by marine experts.
However, killer whales are actually not whales at all! Killer whales are actually dolphins — in fact, they’re the largest member of the dolphin family. All whales, dolphins, and porpoises fall under the order of Cetacea. However, it’s the teeth of an Orca that makes them fall under the suborder called Odontoceti — which means toothed whale. This is one popular theory about why Orcas are referred to as killer whales.
Another popular theory about how Orcas became known as killer whales is that in the past whalers called Orcas “killers of whales” and the name eventually got shortened and it stuck.
Are Killer Whales Aggressive?
While killer whales can look very aggressive when it comes to finding and eating their prey, they don’t generally seek to harm humans on purpose. And the aggression they show is simply them tearing apart their food to feed themselves and the other Orcas in their pod.
However, if an Orca is in a situation where they feel threatened, are protecting their family, or are prodded when they’re feeling emotionally unstable, they will likely lash out and injure — or even kill — any human that’s in their vicinity. It’s also often said that if killer whales are kept in captivity, they may get frustrated and depressed and lash out at a trainer or another human.
Generally, the aim of a killer whale is only to play in a friendly way with the humans they come into contact with. But unfortunately, their playing often will hurt a human because of the Orca’s strength, and the fact that they will often drag them underwater where they will usually drown.
Can Orcas See Color?
Orcas have excellent eyesight and they can see color — but not in the same way that humans can. Orcas have two types of color receptors while most humans have three types of receptors. Therefore, Orcas have trouble seeing the red-green axis.
Do Orcas Eat Sharks?
Although sharks are major predators of the waters they live in, the one great natural enemy of a shark is the Orca! The Orca will win in a fight against a shark almost every time.
However, Orcas generally don’t hunt for sharks because while they will usually win, sharks have razor-sharp teeth and the fight they put up will generally harm the Orca before the Orca can finish them off.
Orcas have a very diverse carnivore diet and will typically hunt a variety of fish, as well as penguins, seals, moose, seabirds, whales, and even other dolphins. Orcas tend to hunt in pods of about 40 — mostly made of up families. Resident pods tend to be less aggressive and hunt only for fish and smaller sea creatures, while transient pods work together to hunt larger marine mammals — which they then share amongst themselves.
How Tall Is An Orca’s Dorsal Fin?
The dorsal fin is a major distinguishing feature of the Orca. Just behind the dorsal fin is a saddle-shaped grey area, referred to appropriately as a “saddle”.
Once an Orca is fully grown, its dorsal fin is tall and triangular and is an average of six feet tall.
Most female Orcas have slightly smaller, more curved dorsal fins that reach about three to four feet high.
How Big Do Orcas Get?
Orcas are considered to be the largest species of the dolphin family. Male Orcas will grow to be between 20 – 26 feet long, with female Orcas generally being a bit smaller — coming in between 18 – 22 feet long. To put this into perspective male Orcas are roughly the size of a bus. The longest Orca ever recorded was 32 feet long.
Male Orcas will typically weigh 12,000 pounds or more, while female Orcas generally weigh between 8,000 and 11,000 pounds.
Even when they are born, baby Orcas (calves) are roughly seven to eight feet long and weigh an average of 400 pounds.
How Often Do Orcas Eat?
Orcas need between 150 and 300 pounds of food every day in order to stay healthy and active. If an Orca is extremely active, they may need up to 375 pounds of food to make up for the calories they burn while hunting and traveling.
It’s not uncommon for an Orca to spend up to 90% of their day hunting for food.
Could An Orca Bite A Crocodile In Half?
With their super sharp teeth, an Orca very likely could bite a crocodile in half, however,it’s quite unlikely that would actually happen. Since Orcas tend to tear their food up before they eat it if they were to capture a crocodile, they would likely hold onto it with their teeth and slam it around until it was immobilized and then use their teeth to rip it apart.
Alternatively, if it was a large Orca that came upon a smaller crocodile the Orca may just swallow up the entire crocodile whole.