In detail

The Orca - profile


Surname: Orca
Other names: Orca
Latin name: Orcinus orca
class: Mammals
size: up to 10m body length
mass: 6000 - 8000kg
Older: 50 - 80 years
Appearance: black-and-white
Sexual dimorphism: Yes
Nutrition type: Carnivore
food: Fish, seals, penguins, smaller whales
distribution: worldwide
original origin: unknown
Sleep-wake rhythm: diurnal
habitat: Sea, ocean
natural enemies: /
sexual maturity: occurs between the ages of 8 and 14 years
mating season: unknown
gestation: 14 - 18 months
litter size: 1 cub
social behavior: Group animal
Threatened with extinction: Yes
Further profiles of animals can be found in the Encyclopaedia.

Interesting facts about the Orca

  • The orca or killer whale is one of the dolphins and is the largest representative of this family.
  • It is native to all oceans and seas, with the largest populations in the polar regions and the northern parts of the Atlantic and Pacific. The Orca also colonizes tropical and subtropical waters as well as parts of the Mediterranean. However, he prefers to stay in cold waters near the coasts rather than in the open sea.
  • Orcas seasonally travel long distances as they follow the wildlife species that are their food sources.
  • Because of its pronounced hunting instinct, the orca is also known in the German-speaking world as a killer or killer whale. He is considered the largest predator on earth.
  • Killer whales can grow up to ten meters long and weigh 8,000 kilos, with the males being significantly larger and more massive than the females.
  • The most striking feature of the orca is its black and white skin pattern with white spots behind the eyes.
  • Orcas have a slightly bifurcated caudal fin and paddle-like pectoral fins. These are significantly larger in the males.
  • The dorsal fin appears bent over in many animals. This is because the fin consists only of cellular tissue without bone structure. This loses stability, especially in the males with increasing age and can therefore buckle by the action of gravity.
  • Orcas are very social and sociable animals. They join together to female-dominated group associations, the so-called whale schools, which can comprise up to fifty animals. Together, they develop sophisticated hunting strategies to capture as many animals as possible during their attacks.
  • Killer whales primarily hunt for fish, seals, seals, sea otters, penguins, sea birds and turtles, but also hunt for dolphins and smaller whales. Occasionally, whale schools even succeed in capturing blue whales.
  • Within the whaling schools the orcas live polygamous. Several females are mated in the mating season from spring to summer by a male.
  • After a gestation period of up to sixteen months, the female gives birth to a single calf, which measures two meters at birth and is nursed by the mother for about a year.
  • Female orcas only reproduce once in five to ten years.
  • The life expectancy of male orcas is between fifty and sixty in the wild, and up to eighty years for females.
  • With the exception of humans, orcas have no natural enemies. However, killer whales are increasingly being deprived of their livelihood due to pollution and overfishing of the oceans. Many animals are also injured and died by ship's propellers.
  • The worldwide stock of killer whales is estimated today at about 100 000 copies.