Featured Animal: Killer Whale (aka Orca)

Meet our featured animal: the killer whale (orca)!

Orca

Here are five facts about killer whales:

  • True to their name, killer whales are effective hunters. They prey on seals, sea lions, fish, sea birds, turtles, octopuses, and squid.
  • Killer whales hunt in pods, or groups, in a way similar to wolves. They circle their prey and force them into smaller areas before attacking.
  • Killer whales have a massive range, living primarily where the water is cold, but inhabiting anywhere from the polar regions right up to the equator.
  • Sending sound waves that travel underwater, killer whales use echolocation as a means for hunting.
  • Killer whales live an average of 30 to 50 years in the wild.

Learn more about killer whales >

Conservation Canines: Dogs Helping Endangered Animals

Did you know you don’t have to be human to be an environmentalist?  Specially-trained dogs from the group Conservation Canines have been assisting scientists protect endangered species since 1997.

With their highly sophisticated sense of smell paired with their insatiable urge to play (their reward at the end of the day), dogs can track scat, or animal droppings, from miles away.  Once located, the scientists can analyze the scat for genetic, physiological, and dietary information.  This provides clues to the animal’s behavior and environment which helps conservationists determine the best way to protect it.

The dogs, which are adopted from animal shelters and then trained by the crew at Conservation Canines, track scat from a variety of endangered animals. The list includes tigers, orcas, fishers, spotted owls, bears, wolves, caribou, giant armadillos, giant anteaters, pumas, jaguars, and Pacific pocket mice.

Watch a video below about Tucker, a black labrador mix who specializes in tracking orca scat. This is a tricky task because he must catch the scent over open water, the scat can move around and/or sink in the water, and he must provide signals to his human coworkers so they can steer the boat in the correct direction.

To learn more, see:

Conservation Canines website
NY Times