These amazing photos of an EIGHT TON orca getting 15 feet in the air were taken by photographer Christopher Swann. I can’t even imagine how fast and at what angle the orca must have been going underneath the water to achieve that kind of height on its jump.

If dolphins wore pants this dolphin would have certainly been crapping them.

Posted by James Poling

A socialist, tinkerer, thinker, question asker and all around curiosity seeker. If you'd like to reach me you can use the contact link above or email me at jamespoling [at] gmail [dot] com.

16 Comments

  1. I can calculate the speed. Just a little high school physics with some simplifying assumptions.

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    1. Well? Show us what you got.

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  2. It takes 1 second to fall 16 feet (or climb 16 feet to the top of a trajectory). That’s a change of 32 ft/s^2, which is about 21 mph vertical velocity at the water. That’s what vertical take off would do, if it angle were 45 degrees, then the speed would be 21 times the square root of 2, or some 30 mph.

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    1. I’m impressed. I have no idea if you’re correct or not but you sound like you know what you’re talking about.

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    2. The Orca can propel itself even after most of its body has left the water, which would complicate the calculation a bit.

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      1. How does it manage to do that? With it’s tail somehow?

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  3. I am kind of impressed. Although, I am wondering if an eight ton orca falls at the rate of 16 feet per second, or whether that statement was for a human of an average weight of say – 200 pounds. I also have no idea of the speed or trajectory angle at which that orca travelled underwater, before making the epic jump.

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    1. Uh, all things fall the same speed, ignoring air resistance.

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    2. A 1-ounce fishing weight will fall out of the sky with the same velocity as a billion ton mountain. it’s 32 feet per second per second.

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      1. Ignoring terminal velocity, which makes sense in the case of the Orca.

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  4. Why is it 16f/s? Wouldn’t it be 32f/s, same as gravity? So the orca was falling for half a second.

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    1. Kate, you are confusing speed (the magnitude of velocity) and acceleration.

      Your distance from the center of the earth determines how much gravity accelerates you. At sea level, gravity will accelerate you downwards at 32 feet per second per second. Note that acceleration has units with a double “per second”. This is because acceleration is the rate of change of your speed, which is itself a rate of change of location. So, if your speed changes your location at X f/s, acceleration will change your speed at X f/s per second, or f/s/s.

      As with the orca, if you start falling at zero f/s, after a full second your speed is 32 f/s. Remember, that is after the full second. During the full second, your speed is increasing from zero to 32 f/s. After two full seconds, your speed will reach 64 f/s.

      Final speed can be nice to know, but if you want to calculate the height you fell, it helps to use average speed, not final speed. The distance you fall is your average speed multiplied by the time you’ve traveled. If (and only if) you accelerate at a constant rate (such as gravity does to you), your average speed is just your starting speed plus your ending speed divided by two. This formula allows you to calculate how far the orca will fall (or ascend) in one second.

      In the case of the orca, it starts falling from the top of its arc at zero f/s downwards, it ends its fall at 32 f/s downwards, thus its *average* speed for the first second of fall is 16 f/s downwards. Thus, after the first second it will have traveled 16 f (16 feet=16 f/s X 1 s). Despite only falling 16 feet during that second, the orca is actually falling at 32 f/s when it hits the water.

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    2. Kate, my first answer was too long. How about this?

      The orca starts falling from the top of its arc at zero f/s downwards, it ends its fall at 32 f/s downwards. Its *average* speed for the first second of fall is the starting speed plus the final speed divided by two, or 16 f/s.

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      1. Your first answer wasn’t too long. Your first comment here is moderated. You should be able to comment at will now.

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  5. Yes, but what went through the mind of the bowl of petunias?

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  6. Oh no, not again..

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