The Orca is a species of toothed whale, and many also commonly refer to them as killer whales. They form the largest extant species of the oceanic dolphin family.
This mammal inhabits every ocean on earth, from tropical seas to the Arctic and Antarctic areas, and has no known natural predators. They thus remain regarded as an apex predator in every ocean, much like the Great White Shark.
The IUCN currently has their conservation status as Data Insufficient since many scientists believe that the behavior of various local populations may indicate the existence of two or more subspecies of Orca.
Orca Physical Characteristics
The adult Orca possesses a very distinctive color pattern and is therefore rarely confused with any other creature, even at a distance. Typically, they are black on the back with sides and chest a bright white in color.
There is also a white patch present behind and above the eye.
Their body shape is heavy and robust. A small degree of sexual dimorphism exists as well. The male Orca averages between 20-26 ft (6-8 m) in length, and about 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) in weight. Females are smaller with an average length of 16-23 ft (5-7 m), and an average weight of 8,000 lb (3,629 kg).
The dorsal fin of the male is also approximately twice the size of that of the female.
In the wild, the Orca may live as long as 90 years. In captivity, they sadly, but not surprisingly, die a lot younger.
Orca Habitat, Diet, and Behavior
Due to their great range and global distribution, an exact estimate of their numbers is impossible. However, the general estimate is that there are at least 50,000 extant Orca individuals at this time.
Though they are present globally, the greatest concentrations exist in higher latitudes and coastal regions. The largest population concentration is the region of the Antarctic.
Sometimes referred to as the wolves of the sea, the Orca typically hunts in packs. Their favorite prey varies greatly, with specialization occurring between local populations. Overall, their food primarily consists of fish, birds, and marine mammals such as baleen whales, other toothed whales, seals, sea lions, walruses, and at times sea otters.