Killer Whale
Whale Watching South Africa


Name : Killer Whale
Scientific Name : Orcinus orca
Class : Mammalia
Family : Delphinidae
Order : Cetacea
suborder - Odontoceti
Shape : The adult Killer Whale general morphology is strong and spindle-shaped. The head is big, somewhat cone-shaped with a rounded forehead and no rostrum. Each half-jaw sports 10 to 13 large cone-shaped teeth.
Fins : The dorsal fin is median, that of female and juveniles' are falcate, and is about 90 cm high in females. The male's dorsal fin is straight and higher; 1.70 - 2 metres. The flippers are racket-shaped, wide, and rounded. The flukes count for about 20 percent of the total body length; a median notch is present. The fins are all black, although the ventral area of the flukes is white.
Length : The male measures between 8 to 9.75 metres and the female measures from 7 to 8.5 metres. Newborns measure 2 to 2.40 metres.
Weight : The male weighs 700 kg/m and the female 500 kg/m. Newborns weigh about 180 kg.
Colour : The body's colouring varies by herd and habitat. The back and flanks are usually black, and the ventral area is white from the chin to the anus, extending laterally onto the flanks towards the back. There is a white mark above and behind each eye. A grey, saddle-shaped mark is found behind the dorsal fin. Each animal is unique due to the morphology of its dorsal fin and to its markings.
Diet : The Killer Whale is at the top of the marine world's feeding chain (cephalopods, birds, fish, reptiles, and marine mammals of all sizes). When in groups, the Killer Whale attacks large cetaceans. Captive Killer Whales consume 25 - 80 kg of food a day.
Population : Seen more often in cooler waters (especially polar regions) than tropics and subtropics. Generally prefers deep water but often found in shallow bays, inland seas, and estuaries (but rarely in rivers).

Migration : No regular long migrations, but some local movements according to ice cover in high latitudes and food availability elsewhere.
Habits : When at the surface, the Killer Whale indulges in all sorts of behaviour, such as lob-tailing and spy-hopping. It swims in small communities of about 25 - 30 to several hundred animals. The group structure is highly organized. Mass strandings have occurred throughout the world. Each group has its own unique dialect composed of acoustic signals that are different from those of other groups.
Distribution : The Killer Whale has a broad distribution and frequents both coastal and oceanic waters from Arctica to Antarctica.  

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Whale Watching South Africa : Whale Trail Hermanus, Cape Whale Coast, Garden Route
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