Zoology & Botany

orca

Prepare a picture of/book about/a toy orca in advance, as well as a sample of black and white skin

Say: Look at this animal. (Show a picture of an orca.) This is a marine mammal.

Remember, to be classified as a mammal, an animal should have hair or fur, mammary glands (mammal mothers nurse their young with milk), lungs and need air to breathe. Marine mammals are warm blooded, have adapted to living all or part of their life in the ocean. To keep warm in the ocean, most of them depend on a thick layer of blubber (or fat).

(Point to the orca) Say: The orca is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. The general body shape of an orca is roughly cylindrical but tapering at both ends. This characteristic fusiform shape is quite energy efficient for swimming. The orca is black and white, with a gray patch called a "saddle" or a "cape" on the back, just behind the dorsal fin. Its mouth is large and well adapted for hunting. The orca's large teeth are conical and interlocking. It has a tall dorsal fin and large, paddle-like flippers. This animal breathes air at the surface of the water through a blowhole located near the top of the head. Orcas have well developed senses of hearing and vision and they communicate with each other using clicks and whistles. (Ask the baby to touch the sample of black and white skin) Say: Orca´s skin is smooth. These animals are immediately recognizable by their distinctive black-and-white coloring and are the intelligent, trainable stars of many aquarium shows.

Go back to the picture of the orca. Say: let’s find orca’s body parts. This is its head, eyes, blowhole, mouth, body, fin, flippers: 1,2; this is its tail. Orcas are highly social animals that travel in groups called pods. Pods usually consist of 5 - 30 whales, although some pods may combine to form a group of 100 or more. They use echolocation - bouncing sound off of objects to determine their location - to hunt and use a series of high-pitched clicks to stun prey.

Orcas are living things and need energy to survive.

These supreme carnivores of the world’s oceans feed on sea birds, squid, octopuses, sea turtles, sharks, rays and fish. They also eat most marine mammals, such as seals and penguins. Orca breeding occurs near the surface and in warm waters. The gestation period is about 16-17 months and the calf is born tail first and near the surface, usually between October and March. The newborn instinctively swims to the surface within 10 seconds for its first breath; it is helped by its mother, using her flippers. Within 30 minutes of its birth the baby whale can swim. The baby is nurtured with its mother's milk. The mother and calf may stay together for two years.

Orcas inhabit all oceans of the world but are most numerous in the Arctic, the Antarctic and areas in nutrient-rich cold water upwellings. Pollution and chemical contamination make orcas more susceptible to disease and likely cause reproductive difficulties. We need to take care of Orcas and treat them with respect because they are living things just like us, people.

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