The interaction between orca and polar bear is almost inevitable. Both are apex predators and hunt on similar prey like the seals. But who would win a fight between an orca and a polar bear?
The orca is known as the killer whale for a reason. And the polar bear is not an animal you’d want to encounter during your walk in the Arctic Ocean.
Join me now as we uncover everything you need to know about orcas and polar bears. Keep reading.
What is Ocra?
Orca, also known as the killer whale, is a highly intelligent and social marine mammal that belongs to the dolphin family. They are found in all the world’s oceans, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Orcas are known for their distinctive black and white markings, with males being larger than females.
They are apex predators and the top predator in the ocean, with a diet that includes fish, squid, and marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even other whales. Orcas are highly social and live in pods of up to 40 members, led by a dominant female.
They are known for their complex communication through vocalizations and body language and for their impressive hunting skills, which involve coordinated attacks on their prey.
Despite being highly intelligent and adaptable, orcas are considered endangered in some parts of the world due to habitat loss, pollution, and other threats.
What is Polar Bear?
The polar bear is a large carnivorous mammal that is native to the Arctic regions of the world. They are the largest land predators on Earth and are known for their distinctive white fur, which helps them to blend in with their snowy environment. Polar bears are excellent swimmers who can swim long distances for prey such as seals, fish, and other marine mammals.
They can also go for long periods without food, relying on their fat stores to survive during periods of food scarcity. Polar bears are solitary animals, except during breeding season and when mothers raise their cubs.
They are adapted to their cold environment, with a thick layer of fat and fur that helps to keep them warm. Despite being well adapted to their environment, polar bears are considered vulnerable to extinction due to climate change, habitat loss, and hunting.
Orca vs Polar Bear Fact Sheet
|25 – 30 feet
|7 – 8 feet
|1.6 to 2.30 meters
|3,600 to 5,400 kg (8,000 to 12 000 lbs)
|300 – 800 kg (600 – 1,800 lb)
|Cold oceans, tropical and subtropical waters
|Arctic sea ice, continental coastlines and islands
|Sea birds, seals, and whales
|Walruses, reindeer, narwhals and whales
|30 – 90 years
|30 – 45 years
Orcas belong to the family Delphinidae and are close relatives to dolphins, except they are a bit larger. In short, their large body size makes them different from the other members in their suborder.
Although some people say if a dolphin reaches 30 feet long, it should be a whale, the rules of taxonomy should still apply.
Polar bear, on the other hand, belongs to the family Ursidae. This family consists of all eight species of bear.
Ursidae form the largest group of terrestrial carnivorous animals with well-developed claws, sharp canines and well-developed premolars, strong jaw muscles, and strong facial musculature.
Male orcas tend to grow longer than females. A fully grown male orca can measure approximately 30 feet, while the female can measure between 25 feet long. Their large body size and fierce nature make them referred to as killer whales.
Polar bears are about 7 to 8 feet long on measurement from the nose tip to the tail. Male polar bears grow longer than females. This body length lets them see a longer distance when standing on their feet.
Typically, orca or killer whales have an average height of 1.6 to 2.30 meters. Unlike the dolphins, orcas are taller and have longer dorsal fins. The large dorsal fin helps the orca stabilize against rolling and helps in turning its large body.
On the other hand, a polar bear standing on its four legs can reach approximately 1.6 meters, which is 5.3 feet. The large body size helps the bear spot prey from afar. Sometimes, it is discouraging because the prey can easily spot the bear and escape.
Orcas males tend to grow larger than the females. A fully grown orca can weigh between 3,600 to 5,400 kg (8,000 to 12,000 lbs), while a female can weigh between 1,300 to 3,600 kg (3,000 to 8,000 lbs). Their large body size makes them heavy food consumers. The larger the body size, the larger the food consumed.
Polar bears are the largest land carnivores, with adult males weighing approximately 300 – 800 kg (600 – 1,800 lb). The females are smaller than the males, with the adult weighing approximately 330 to 650 kg. Their body size depends on the amount of food available in the habitat.
Sometimes, bears can go for a day without food, thus using the body fats to produce energy and eventually become smaller than the normal body size.
Orcas are water animals and cannot run on land. But being used to hunting and surviving in the water, they possess exceptional swimming speed. Orcas can swim at a speed of 56 km/h. However, its speed depends on body size; the longer the body size, the higher the swimming speed.
Polar bears, on the other hand, can sprint at 40 km/h on land. Although they are land mammals, polar bears are also known to be good swimmers. They can swim at an average of 6 mph. Their ability to swim helps them navigate across the islands of icebergs.
Orcas are stronger than any animal on land. They have a great biting power of about 19000 psi and can travel for about 40 miles a day. They can endure water pressure of 3500 feet deep. Their endurance levels make them scavenge deep waters where fewer water animals can survive.
Polar bears are also stronger t but not as strong as orcas. They can deliver a powerful bite of about 1200 psi; this makes them the strongest among the other bear species. Their large body size makes them stronger than any carnivorous animal on land.
Herding fish and striking them using their tails are among the hunting techniques of orcas. Orcas are intelligent enough to perform coordinated attacks that create waves that can strike off the prey to the floating ice and back into the water.
Polar bears hunt on seals and other water animals they can kill. They hunt, waiting for seals to come out of the water to breathe and attack them while unaware. Their white skin coat enables the polar bear to camouflage in the icy environment.
Although you’ll find orcas in all oceans, you’ll abundantly find them occupying cold oceans like Alaska, Norway, and Antarctica. They also occupy tropical and subtropical waters.
Underneath the skin of an orca is a thick layer of fat, which is made up of fibrous connecting tissue and fats to help prevent heat loss.
Polar bears, as their name suggests, mainly inhabit the Polar Regions. Other habitats include the arctic sea ice, continental coastlines, and islands. Underneath the white coating is a layer of fat that helps prevent heat loss.
Orcas are apex predators and eat sea foods like small whales and fish. But they sometimes hunt on sea birds, seals, and other big sea animals like whales. Although orcas are small, they are a great enemy to whales. Orcas can hunt and kill whales for food.
Polar bears mainly feed on seals as they are the commonest prey in the Polar Regions. Polar bears feed on all four types of seals: ringed seals, hooded, harp, and harbor seals. They are also opportunistic feeders and will eat on carcasses of walruses, reindeer, narwhals, and whales.
The average lifespan for male orcas in the wild is around 30 years, but sometimes, they can reach 60. Females, on the other hand, can live between 50 to 90 years. They live longer because they are less likely to come across polluted seawater and food.
Polar bears can live up to 30 years, but only a small percentage exceed 18 years. The oldest polar bear in the wild lived to 32 years, while that in captivity made it to 45 years. Surviving in the wild depends on a number of parameters, including sufficient food capacity.
The estimated biting force of orcas is approximately 19000 PSI. The large body size with strong jaw muscles gives these orcas a strong biting power. And being top in the food chain makes the orcas take down anything that comes their way.
On the other hand, polar bears have the strongest biting force compared to the other bear species. The polar bear’s jaws can deliver a biting force of 1200 PSI. The biting force is enough to crush down strong bones.
Orcas are the true rulers of the sea and occupy the top of their food chain. It means that these killer whales have little or no natural predators. But to be exact, a white shark can predate on killer whales when it gets the chance. Killer whales are always in packs, making them almost impossible to attack.
Adult polar bears, on the other hand, have no predators except other adult polar bears. Sometimes, wolves and other predatory animals prey on cubs. Also, malnourished adult males and polar bear mothers sometimes cannibalize newborn cubs.
Orcas’ eyes are red, blue, or brown. They look almost similar in size to cow’s eyes. Never confuse the white spots on each side as eyes. The real eyes are located in front and below the white spots. The eye color makes them have exceptional eyesight in the dark.
However, orcas do not rely on their eyes when preying but produce a unique echo sound that helps them identify prey.
On the other hand, polar bears have specialized eyes that help them see underwater. Their eyes possess an inner eyelid known as a nictitating membrane that helps protect the eyes and acts as a second underwater lens.
Who Would Win in a Fight? Orca or Polar Bear
Orcas will win the fight with a polar bear. Although polar bears are the land kings, they cannot survive before the orcas. Orcas are the ocean kings, and because they occupy the top of the food chain, they are great killers. They are a threat even to the large sea animals like the large whales.
Orcas have a large body size when compared to that of polar bear. The larger the body size, the higher the energy an animal possesses.
However, although polar bears are not the ocean kings, they rule the land. Their jaws are stronger than any other known land carnivore. They also have a facial musculature that can help break the strong bones of carcasses of large animals.
Therefore, although polar bears are not the kings of the ocean, they are experts of the land and great among the other land carnivores.