Wildlife Fact Sheets

Orca

orca

Orca

Orcinus orca

  • How Long I Live
    50-80 years in the wild
  • Where I Like to Hang Out
    I’m frequently found in cold, coastal waters, but on rare occasions, you can find me in warmer waters as well.
  • Where I Live
    My family and I are found most commonly in high latitude waters. My family holds the remarkable distinction of being the most widely distributed marine mammal. We can be found in every ocean in the world!!!
  • What I Eat
    Marine mammals, fish, seabirds and sharks

About Me

Although some people refer to me as a killer whale, I prefer to be called an orca—it sounds much friendlier! I’m easy to spot in the ocean—my iconic black and white coloring gives me away.
I’m an incredibly powerful hunter and enjoy eating fish, seals, sharks and more. People began calling orcas ”killer whales” when ancient Spanish sailors observed pods of orcas attacking larger whale species. But, I don’t want to get a bad rap—not all orcas feed on other whales; my species is very diverse! We orcas have localized populations called ecotypes that differ in appearance, diet and behavior. Last I checked, I found (and scientists confirmed) that there are ten different ecotypes spread across all the world’s oceans.

Did You Know?

Did you know that my species is the largest member of the dolphin family? Take that, bottlenose!

Likes

When I go hunting, I usually take up to 40 of my best hunters along with me. We like to use a collaborative hunting technique, similar to a wolf pack. (I think the wolves really stole the idea from us!) The ”orca pack” technique involves beaching (or jumping briefly on land) to scare seals and penguins into the water. Then, once the prey splashes into the water, my pod is ready and waiting to feed.
Did you know that orca pods are led by females—we’re a matriarchal society.

Get To Know Me

References