G'day folks,

The killer whale or orca is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. Killer whales have a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in particular types of prey.

Killer whales are considered to be highly intelligent and curious marine mammals. Despite their name, there have been no recorded human fatalities caused by killer whales in the wild.

  • Killer whales can reach up to 10 metres long and have a distinctive black body with a white underside and patches of white behind and above the eye and a grey patch behind the dorsal fin.
  • They are toothed whales and belong to the dolphin family.
  • Their tall dorsal fin can reach up to 2 metres (a little bit taller than the average human) in height.
  • Killer whales can travel up to 160km in one day!
  • They live in waters ranging all over the world, from the Arctic Circle all the way to Southern Australia and Antarctica!
  • Orcas are apex predators which means they have no natural predators that prey on them. They hunt in packs and like to take down whales bigger than themselves! They also eat fish, seals, cephalopods (squid, octopus and cuttlefish), sea birds and turtles.
  •  Killer whales are very playful, sociable and live in matriarchal pods (groups led by females).
  • Killer whales communicate with each other via echolocation. Echolocation is the process of sending out a call through sound waves and listening to the echo of the call. Each echo carries information which is understood by the whale.
  • It is known that groups of killer whales have their own echolocation dialect (a language that is specific to a certain social group), which is different to another killer whale population. This behaviour is a display of animal culture, a trait that was only thought to be human specific.
  • In the wild, killer whales pose no threat to humans whatsoever. Unfortunately, killer whales that have been kept in captivity have harmed and sometimes even killed their trainers. Killer whales are usually distressed and can turn aggressive when kept in captivity. This is because they are too large and intelligent to be kept in a small and unstimulating environment without them suffering.
  • Killer whales in the wild can live for up to 90 years! The oldest known orca lived to the age of 103! A captive orca’s lifespan is approximately only 20 years.
  • The orca’s conservation status is not clear due to insufficient data, but some local orca groups are thought to be at risk due to pollution, habitat loss, capturing for captivity and other conflict with humans.


 Quick Facts

  • Type: Mammal
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Life span: Approx. 50 years in the wild
  • Size: 10 metres
  • Weight: Up to 10,000kg
  • Habitat: Marine waters
  • Range: Across the world
  • Scientific name: Orcinus orca

Clancy's comment: I love these creatures. So much so, they are featured on my bucket list.

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