In the beginning of the school year, we were asked what our animal was at a student council retreat. I blanked so I said horse because it’s my Chinese zodiac. But a little later, it occurred to me that my favorite animal is the orca and it always has been. I think the love affair started when I was five and had just moved to the US. In the winter of early 2006, I was a fresh transplant to the East Coast and was about to start kindergarten. My only word of English was “bathroom,” a word my teachers thought I needed to know so I could let them know when nature called. My first contact with English were a couple of VHS tapes my dad purchased for me and my brother. “Free Willy” was ones of those tapes.
I loved the relationship between Willy and Jesse and how they both helped each other to grow. It was during this movie that I discovered a love for the ocean. Through Willy’s eye, I felt how small, how restrictive the tank was. Orca’s are commonly known as killer whales but I feel the name is misconstrued. They are actually gentle, majestic creatures. They travel in pods, short of like a little whale family, usually led by a female. And they have emotions. They feel.
Orcas are highly intelligent and trainable, which is why they are popular attractions at places at Sea World. But when orcas’ dorsal fins become curved when they spend a longer period of time in captivity. Scientists don’t really know why that happens. Orcas communicate with each other with echolocation but they actually have different dialects. Mama orcas teach their calves to speak with each pod’s distinct dialect. Different types of orcas have different prey. Some hunt other marine mammals like seals or sea lions. Other just feed on fish. I also like orcas because of their coloring. They have white patches on the side of their heads. Somehow, I think that makes them extra endearing.
I just spent a whole post talking about orcas. That’s okay, because I love them. And they are totally cool.
Photo credits: all over the Internet