Despite their cute demeanor, orcas are vicious predators even feared by sharks.

By Carissa Guffey, Staff Writer 

Orcas, or commonly known as killer whales, are popular for their unique black and white coloring and their frequent appearance in places like SeaWorld. But what might surprise you is how deadly and aggressive these apex predators actually are. 

Orcas mainly hunt sea lions and penguins, but they are known to also kill whales and even great white sharks! When an orca hunts a shark, it knows how to precisely bite and remove its liver, a shark’s most valuable organ. A pod of orcas has also been seen killing a 70 foot blue whale, which is a level of predation that hasn’t been seen since the dinosaurs. 

Orcas will sometimes torment other animals with no intention of eating them. Like dolphins, orcas will charge prey that is quicker than them at full speed and stun them; once stunned, the orca can easily attack. Another technique is that they will knock a mammal into the air using their tail, sometimes reaching heights up to 80 feet. 

Orcas are also extremely smart with excellent memory. They are most similar in intelligence to a chimpanzee. Orcas are one of the few animals to pass the mirror recognition test, meaning they are self-aware. Orcas have a unique culture and dialect that varies among pods. Scientists have recently discovered orcas can imitate and learn to speak dolphin. 

Luckily, orcas rarely attack humans, but they aren’t afraid to go up against a fishing boat and steal your catch. Also, be sure to keep your dog safe as their barks are like that of a seal. All in all, orcas are scary; even sharks know to be afraid of them.