Killer whale

Species profile

Name: the killer whale or orca (Orcinus orca) is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family – of which it is the largest member.

Appearance: killer whales have a distinctive black back, white chest, and white patch above and behind the eye. They also have a large dorsal fin which can reach up to 1.8 metres tall.

Size: males typically range from 6 to 8 metres long and weigh over 6 tonnes. Females are typically smaller, ranging from 5 to 7 metres and weighing between 3 to 4 tonnes.

Diet: killer whales have a diverse diet – with different populations often specialising in particular types of prey. Some feed exclusively on fish, others hunt marine mammals such as seals and dolphins, and some groups target whale calves and even adult whales.

Did you know: killer whales are highly sociable and intelligent animals that live in female-led family groups (known as pods). Their sophisticated hunting techniques and vocal behaviours, which are often specific to a particular group and passed across generations, have been described as examples of animal culture.

Location: killer whales can be found in each of the world’s oceans in a variety of marine environments – from Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas. The only areas where they are absent are the Baltic and Black seas, and some areas of the Arctic ocean.

Best places to see killer whales

According to reports submitted to WildSide, the best places to see killer whales are as follows:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Valdes Peninsula
very good
Isla de la Plata
very low
very good

Photo credit: skeeze under a Creative Commons license from Pixabay