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Canada's Species   Mammals

Orca, Killer whale

Orcinus orca

Orca, Killer whale. Photo:NOAA

As the largest member of the dolphin family, the killer whale can attain a maximum length of 31 feet. Also known as orca, the killer whale occurs world wide. The orca occurs along both coasts of Canada as well as off some portions of Yukon and northern Labrador. It is a common inhabitant of cooler waters, where it hunts its preferred prey, marine mammals. Orcas are the only cetaceans that feed only on warm blooded prey, and are often seen in large 'wolf packs' when they hunt. Orcas have even been observed attacking whales that are three times their size, and on one occasion a group of orcas was seen attacking a full grown blue whale which they subsequently killed. No reports of orcas attacking humans have ever been documented. Despite their imposing size and teeth, orcas are tamed quite easily and are rather docile.

Map of Orca, Killer whale in Canada
Distribution of Orca, Killer whale" in Canada

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