Latin Name - Orcinus orca
Conservation Status - Conservation Dependent
Location - Worldwide
Diet - Different species of Fish, Squid and Mammals
Colour - Black & White
Length - Up to 9 m (30 ft)
Weight - Up to 10 tonnes
Life Expectancy - Average 35 Yrs (Male) & 50 Yrs (Female)
The Orca or Killer Whale is a toothed whale belonging to the 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. Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals such as seals and dolphins. Killer Whales are apex predators, as there is no animal that preys on them.
What do they look like?
A typical Killer Whale distinctively bears a black back, white chest and sides, and a white patch above and behind the eye. Calves are born with a yellowish or orange tint, which fades to white. It has a heavy and robust body with a large dorsal fin up to 1.8 m (5.9 ft) tall. Behind the fin, it has a dark grey "saddle patch" across the back.
Antarctic Killer Whales may have pale gray to nearly white backs. Adult Killer Whales are very distinctive and are not usually confused with any other sea creature. When seen from a distance, juveniles can be confused with other cetacean species, such as the False Killer Whale or Risso's Dolphin.
Are they at risk?
Orcas worldwide face a number of threats. They get caught in fishing nets and gear accidentally, face problems with toxic waste and pollution in the sea. Increase in boat traffic can result in collisions with orcas and an increase in underwater noise pollution.
In some regions – Greenland, Japan, Indonesia, and some Caribbean islands – they are still victims of whaling efforts. Historically, populations in the Pacific Northwest and North Atlantic were targeted for live captures to be sold to oceanariums like SeaWorld. The Southern Residents were extensively targeted and still struggle to recover – they have never come close to regaining their pre-capture population numbers. Orcas in the Pacific waters off Russia are still captured and sold into captivity, including four taken in 2014.