Killer whale breaching

Killer whale

Killer whales are actually the largest species of dolphin. Their dorsal fin can be used to recognise individuals, and in males can measure an incredible 1.8 metres in height. Killer whales are found in every ocean on the planet, and as well as being the most widely distributed, they are also one of the fastest sea mammals, reaching speeds of up to 55kph. As distinguished marine predators, these strikingly marked killers employ a number of clever techniques to catch their prey. These include herding, coordinated attacks and wave washing seals off ice floes.

Did you know?
Killer whales have been known to hunt down grey and blue whales.

Scientific name: Orcinus orca

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Blackfish,
  • Orca

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The Killer whale can be found in a number of locations including: Antarctica, Arctic, Mediterranean, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Killer whale distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Data deficient

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Unknown

Year assessed: 2008

Classified by: IUCN 3.1

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