The Natural History and Ecology of Killer Whales


in Whales, Whaling, and Ocean Ecosystems

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248847
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933200 | DOI:
The Natural History and Ecology of Killer Whales

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This chapter notes that evidence of the behavioral versatility of killer whales is provided by the wide variety of foraging methods they employ throughout their cosmopolitan range; the correspondingly diverse set of prey species they are known to feed on; the different types of social systems that characterize different populations, interpopulational and in some cases intrapopulational variation in their use of acoustic signals for communication and echolocation, and their well-known ability to learn complex and novel behaviors in captivity. Yet, a predominant feature of killer whales is their conservative nature—they are less innovative than one might expect of a large-brained, socially, and behaviorally sophisticated animal.

Keywords: killer whale behavior; foraging methods; social systems; echolocation; social animal

Chapter.  9556 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aquatic Biology

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