The Killer Whale: Largest Dolphin in the World

7/18/2010 05:13:00 PM ·

The Killer Whale is greatly misunderstood, especially after the tragic death of Dawn Brancheau, animal trainer at Seaworld Orlando.

Dawn Brancheau, 40, was working with a whale named Tilikum in knee-deep water at SeaWorld in Orlando on February 24 when the animal grabbed her by the ponytail and pulled her underwater in front of shocked onlookers at the park's Shamu Stadium.
Unfortunately,  many of us are unaware of their behavior, so jumping to conclusions about these animals is easily done. In fact, I've always been fascinated by the fact that a Killer Whale can spin a Great White Shark on it's back, allowing the shark to slowly drown. It's amazing to even think that a creature that we only associate with Seaworld shows can kill a shark that has a seemingly notorious persona.

The truth is, however, that an Orca is not a whale at all, but the largest species of dolphin in the world. Furthermore, wild dolphins are extremely aggressive, which explains the behavior of the Tilikum at Seaworld. So the fact that the show has been shut down is not a surprise, really it's a blessing in disguise.

Dr. Paul Spong of Orca Lab studies orca linguistics. Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research discovered the impact that navy sonar was having on whales. Meet the world's leading experts on orcas.

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