Orca, or commonly known as the killer whale, is a marine mammal and is the largest member of the dolphin family.
This toothed whale is very social and can easily adapt to changing environments.
Killer whales are one of the smartest mammals in the world with their own civilization below sea level.
Although only one species of killer whale is currently (2016) accepted taxonomically, there are actually several subspecies that exhibit different eating habits, anatomy, and behavioral adaptations.
This species is a top predator that usually swims in family groups (pods) and has no natural enemies in the wild.
Orca’s sleek black body consists of a firm white belly and clear white patches near the eyes.
The sleek, large size and cone-shaped head of a killer whale makes it one of the fastest marine mammals.
The largest male ever found was 9.7 meters in size with a total weight of more than 9,000 kg, while the largest female Orca recorded was 8.5 kg and weighed 6,800 kg.
They have tremendous potential to survive in extremely cold temperatures and can also be part of tropical ecosystems.
Different subspecies occupy their respective home ranges, but this species is also known to migrate seasonally.
Killer whales generally visit shorelines or shallow waters in search of food and can dive up to 300 meters although they prefer 20-60 meters depth.
Killer whales also visit Arctic waters during winter but tend to avoid ice packs during summer.
Depending on habitat, eating habits, and anatomical features, killer whales are determined in 10 known ecotypes:
Type A Type B: large, small Type C Type D
Distribution of Ecotypes Killer whales are very productive in cold or temperate waters that occupy high latitudes.
This species prefers to swim in coastal waters and can be found in all oceans throughout the world.
Orca that live in certain ecotypes inhabit unique locations and display morphological features that are slightly different from others.
Resident orca operates in cohesive and complex family groups.
They also use unique vocal dialects that transfer important information about the mother’s lineage, where to eat, and breed.
Therefore, Southern residents have become the main source of study and conservation under the Orca Survey Project.