Orcinus orca   (Linnaeus,  1758) (Whale)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Mammalia

Size: Male: 9.5 m; Female: 7-8.5 m.
The Killer Whale males are considerably larger than the females.

Weight: Male: 8 tons; Female: 4 ton or more.

Color: The color pattern is easily recognizable. It consists of clearly defined areas of shiny black and cream or white. Generally, Killer Whales are black above, with a light grey patch behind the dorsal fin. The chin, throat, belly and undersides of the tail flukes are white. There is a white patch on each flank, connected to the white bell. There is also a white oval patch just above and behind each eye.

The largest of the dolphin family, the Killer Whale is robust but streamlined. The head is rounded, with no beak. The dorsal fin is very tall and conspicuous, sickle-like in female and immature males, but triangular and up to 1.8 m tall in large males. The flippers are very large and paddle-like. There are 10-12 pairs of large conical teeth in each jaw. Gestation is a year.
Feeds on numerous fish, squid, and marine mammal species, including blue whales; even gulls, penguins and turtles.

Extended group of Killer Whales live together and cooperate in hunting. With their size, appearance and reputation for ferocity Killer Whales are a ‘glamorous’ species. They can be trained to perform astonishing tricks. This animal is one of the only predators of large marine mammals, including the largest whales. Killer Whales are usually approachable, as they are undisturbed by shipping.

Synonym (s)
Orcinus glacialis Berzin & Vladimirov, 1983
Delphinus duhameli Lacepede, 1804
Delphinus gladiator Bonnaterre, 1789
Delphinus grampus Blainville, 1817
Delphinus orca Linnaeus, 1758
Delphinus orca ensidoratus Kerr, 1792
Delphinus serra Borowski, 1780
Delphinus victorini Grill, 1858
Grampus orca Iredale & Troughton, 1933
Grampus rectipinna Scheffer, 1942
Ophysia pacifica Gray, 1870
Orca africana Gray, 1871
Orca antarctica Fischer, 1876
Orca ater Cope, 1869
Orca ater fusca Dall, 1874
Orca atra Gray, 1871
Orca capensis Gray, 1846
Orca eschrichtii Reinhardt, 1866
Orca glacialis Berzin & Vladimirov, 1982
Orca gladiator Van Beneden & Gervais, 1869-1880
Orca gladiator arcticus Gervais, 1869-1871
Orca gladiator australis Gervais, 1869-1871
Orca gladiator europaeus Gervais, 1869-1871
Orca gladiator tasmaniensis Cabrera, 1961
Orca latirostris Gray, 1870
Orca megellanica Burmeister, 1866
Orca minor Malm, 1871
Orca pacifica Gray, 1870
Orca rectipinna Cope, 1869
Orca schlegelii Lilljeborg 1866
Orca stenorhyncha Gray, 1870
Orca tasmanica Gray, 1871
Orcinus glacialis Berzin & Vladimirov, 1982
Orcinus nanus Mikhalev, Ivashin, Savusin & Zelenaya, 1981
Orcinus orca capensis Trouessart, 1904
Orcinus orca eschrichti Trouessart, 1904
Orcinus orca megallanicus Trouessart, 1904
Physeter microps Fabricius, 1780

Common Name (s)
• Killer Whale (English)
• Orca (English)
• Grampus (English)
• Killer Trasher (English)
• Sword Grampus (English)
• Swordfish (English)
• Great Killer Whale
Economic Importance and Threats
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(Whaling activities, live capture or display.)

Habitat:  Open Sea, Coastal
Prey:  Fish, Squid, turtles, birds and dolphins.
IUCN Status:  Data Deficient


• Bay of Bengal (Lat: 15) (Long: 90) INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, North Andamans (Lat: 13.25) (Long: 92.92) INDIA
• Gujarat, Okha Coast INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Nicobar Islands INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andaman Islands INDIA (Record: 12/4/1983)
• Lakshadweep, Agatti INDIA (Record: 04/2000)
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• INDIA (Record: 1800-2000)
• Gujarat, Gulf of Kachchh (Lat: 22.6) (Long: 69.5) INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Agarwal, VC and Alfred, JRB (1999) Handbook: Whales, dolphins and dugong from Indian seas ZSI, Calcutta 150 pp Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Alfred, JRB; Das, AK and Sanyal, AK (Eds.) (1998) Faunal diversity in India ZSI, Calcutta 1-497 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre Available at - http://www.unep-wcmc.org/
  • Molur, S and Walker, S (1998) Mammals of India. Report summary 1998 Zoos' Print Journal Zoo Outreach Organisation, Coimbatore 13(9) 7 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Borkar, M (2005) Marine mammals, turtles and crocodiles: A field manual NIO, Goa 63 pp Available at - NIO
  • Sathasivam K (2004) Marine mammals of India Universities Press(India) private limited, Hyderabad, India 180 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at - http://www.marinespecies.org
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at - http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at - http://tnenvis.nic.in
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at - http://tnenvis.nic.in/PDF/coastal%20data.pdf
  • Kumaran, PL (2002) Marine mammal research in India: A review and critique of the methods Current Science Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore 83(10) 1210-1220 Available at - www.ias.ac.in/currsci/nov252002/1210.pdf
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at - eprints.cmfri.org.in/3975/1/Special_Publication_No_12_Revised.pdf
  • Padmanaban P and Dinesh K.P (2011) A checklist of Marine Mammals of India Marine Biology Reginal centre, Zoological Survey of India 4pp Available at - http://zsi.gov.in/checklist/Marine%20mammals%20of%20India.pdf
  • Singh H.S (2003) Sea mammals in marine protected area in the Gulf of Kachchh, Gujarat State, India Indian Journal of Marine Science 258-262pp Available at - http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/4279/1/IJMS%2032(3)%20258-262.pdf
  • Jefferson, TA; Leatherwood, S and Webber, MA (2006) Marine mammals of the world World biodiversity database Available at - http://nlbif.eti.uva.nl/bis/marine_mammals.php?menuentry=inleiding

Page last updated on:2012-11-07

Back to Search