Killer Whale (Orcinus orca)

Killer whales, also known as "Orcas," are probably one of the most well known of the cetaceans.  The killer whale belongs to the Delphinidae family (making it the largest dolphin), but due to its size over 30 ft. it is also considered a whale. The killer whales are found in all oceans. These whales can adapt to almost any conditions, and appear to be at home in both open seas and coastal waters. Orcas are toothed whales, related to sperm and pilot whales, and are apex predators vulnerable only to large sharks. They have the most varied diet of all cetaceans, and can tackle prey of all shapes and sizes. They often use a coordinated hunting strategy, working as a team like a pack of wolves.

There are three ecotypes of killer whales on the West Coast of North America: Resident Killer Whales (Northern and Resident killer whales; salmon eaters); Transient Killer Whales or also known as Bigg's killer whales (feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins, and porpoise); and Offshore Killer Whales (feed on fish, squid, and maybe sharks).

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Saving the Southern Residents, a Story Map

Saving Southern Resident Killer Whales Fact Sheet

Spotlight on the Southern Resident Killer Whale-- An interview with NOAA Fisheries Biologist Lynne Barre

In 2014, NOAA Fisheries released Southern Resident Killer Whales: 10 Years of Research & Conservation Report

In 2015, Species in the Spotlight: Survive to Thrive