Facts about Orca whales (Killer whales)


Scientific name: Orcinus orca
Family: Delphinidae
Range: All oceans, prefers cooler waters
Habitat: Coastal and oceanic waters
Status: Locally common
Population: In excess of 100,000
Diet: Varied, from fish and squid to marine mammals
Length: 6-9.8m, males larger than females
Weight: 3.3-10 tons


Flukes: Slightly concave trailing edges and distinct notch. Upper side is dark and underside pale
Dorsal fin: Tall dorsal fin is slightly forward of midline. Triangular in adult males and curved in adult females
Flippers: Black or dark grey, broad with rounded tips
Shape of head: Slightly rounded melon and gently tapered snout. Upper head in black with a bold white patch behind each eye. Chin and throat are white
Body: Black upper body with grey “saddle patch” just behind dorsal fin. Bold white curved patch extends into each flank from the white underside
Blow: Low and bushy, visible in cool, still air
Group size: Usually in family or social groups (pods) of 3-25. Several pods may gather temporarily
Behaviour: Often inquisitive and playful and may breach, lobtail, flipper-slap and spyhop. Sometimes rolls to slap dorsal fin on the surface. When travelling, a common dive pattern is 4-5 dives of less than 30 seconds each, followed by a longer dive of 5-10 minutes

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