National Geographic : 1940 Jan
WHALES, GIANTS OF THE SEA Zemlya, Baffin Bay, and Bering Strait to beyond the Antarctic Circle in the Southern Hemi sphere (Plate XIII). The most striking and unforgettable fea ture of the Killer when swimming at the sur face is its erect black dorsal fin, rising like a pole every time the back comes up. The flippers and caudal flukes of young and old males are exceptionally large. Males grow to a length of 30 feet, but most females do not ex ceed half that size. Killer Whales may be recognized by the bluntly rounded snout, which merges imper ceptibly with the fore head, the white patch just behind and above the eye, and the strik ing contrast of the jet black color of the head and back with the snowy-white under parts. They have 10 to 14 large conical teeth on each side in each of the powerful jaws which interlock when the mouth is closed. Endowed with power fully built bodies and ravenous appetites, Killer Whales hunt in packs of 3 to 40 indi viduals and habitually prey on other warm blooded marine ani mals, including their own kind. The mem bers of these schools often travel at a rapid rate in close formation, side by side. rising and diving at the same time, or cruise along at a uni form pace with their dorsal fins and part of The Killer Whale has Photograph by B. Anthony Stewart LIKE A DOG TAUGHT TO STAND UP AND BEG, A DOLPHIN RISES FOR FISH With its tail lashing beneath the surface, this tame Bottlenose Dolphin (Plate XVII) in a large tank at Marineland, near St. Augustine, Florida, stands half out of water to take mullet from the attendant's hand. A bell is rung to call the dolphins to "meals" (page 86). The umbrellalike canvas is a sunshade for penguins that live in the pool. their backs exposed. a mouth and throat large enough to swallow seals and porpoises entire. Narwhals, White Whales, and hair seals will leave open water and frantically rush toward the beach or narrow leads in the ice on the approach of a pack of Killers. Gray Whales either become paralyzed with fright and float belly up. or head toward the beach and slide into water so shallow that they roll in the wash. A pack of Killers, encircling a large whale, will harass and leap at it from all sides, biting at the fleshy lower lips, the flip pers, and the sides until the animal either runs ashore, if near the coast, or, becoming ex hausted, is literally torn to pieces.