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Monday, June 4, 2012

Baby Orca

Orca Newborn,
Adult Orcas / killer whales give birth to a single baby (only once were twins recorded) about every 3-10 years. They start breeding at about 14-15 years of age (the youngest known was only 11). Gestation is 16-17 months. Babies nurse for about one year. Almost half of all the babies die within their first year. Females only breed for about 25 years then they stop when they are about 40 years old. Thus, each female only produces about 4-6 surviving offspring in her life.

All individuals in the resident populations stay with their mother. Little is known of actual mating encounters but genetic evidence (DNA analysis) shows that there is no mating within the matrilineal group. This behavior prevents inbreeding. How it is accomplished is unknown. It may be by recognition of their dialects. Each of these matrilineal groups has its own dialect that changes from time to time but all of the whales within one matrilineal group use the same dialect. It would seem that mating may only occur between two individuals that had different dialects. This is only a theory but a plausible answer.

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