What they eat

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Digestive system is a group of organs that help to get food into body, break down food, absorb the nutrients and get the unused parts out of body. Killer whale’s digestive system is like a big machine. It includes: jaws, pharynx, oesophagus and stomachs.

Figure 1.1 Killer whale jaws and teeth
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The killer whale has huge jaws which can eat very large animals such as sea lion. There are 22-28 teeth by each jaw (see figure 1.1). The teeth can be is 7.5 cm to 13 cm high for a 2.5 cm wide. They are the very important part of the digestive system because they are not just help to cut the prey, but also help to catch and crush the prey.

Figure 1.2 Killer whale stomach
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After the food is pounded by the jaws, killer whales swallow them through pharynx. Then the food will pass larynx then straight into the very large oesophagus and then the stomach. The biggest part of the digestive system is the stomach. Unlike human’s, killer whale’s stomach has three pockets. This first one is called mechanical stomach. It will pound and chop the prey to make them more easily digestible. This pocket does not have digestive juice so it’s actually a post oesophagus. Pebbles and shells are sometimes found in this mechanical stomach helps to crush the food.
The second pocket is called the chemical stomach, or main stomach. The walls in this stomach are thicker, and there are digestive juices produced. The digestive juices will weaken and soften the food so they can be absorbed by the digestive tube.
The last pocket is called pyloric stomach which is before the intestine. It is a kind of waiting room. Food transfer from the chemical stomach will stay in this pocket until the intestine absorbs them, or they will be defecated.