Mammal Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Orcinus orca
Killer Whale - "Orca"

The Killer Whale or "Orca" is also known as the "Blackfish", "Grampus", and because large males display a tall dorsal fin, the "Sword Fish".


Killer Whale Distinguishing Features - Length: up to 9.4 m; weight: up to 9000 kg. Colouration: black with white, tan, or yellow region on undersides from lower jaw to anus extending onto sides behind dorsal fin; oval, white patch just above and behind eye; usually light-gray saddle behind dorsal fin; undersides of flukes usually white. Head: broad, rounded; mouth: large; teeth: large, pointed; no pronounced beak. Flippers: large, paddle-shaped, rounded. Dorsal fin: tall, distinctly falcate in females and juveniles, taller and erect in adult males, sometimes appears to bend forward. Males larger and sturdier than females.


The Arctic Seas; in Atlantic from pack ice to Lesser Antilles, including Gulf of Mexico; in Pacific from Chukchi Sea to equator; in cooler coastal seas; occasionally large rivers and tropical seas.


An opportunistic feeder; salmon, cod and herring, squid, baleen whales, seals and sea lions; also birds, and sea turtles.


While there are no certain records of unprovoked attacks on humans, boaters and sea-kayakers are advised to be extremely cautious of these animals.

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