Orca

Orcinus orca

Orcas, also known as killer whales are not really whales at all. In fact, they are actually the largest members of the dolphin family. The term ‘orca’ is derived from the Latin word Orcinus, meaning “of or belonging to the kingdom of the dead.” Despite their name and reputation, orcas are not aggressive towards each other and do not attack humans. They live in all of the world’s oceans and seas, from the Arctic to the Antarctica making them among the most widely distributed mammal.

Characteristics

Orcas have the very distinctive counter-shading colouration of jet black backs and bright white fronts that makes them easy to identify. Counter-shading is a common and effective form of camouflage for sea life such as sharks, dolphins and whales who need to keep hidden from creatures looking down at them into the dark sea as well as up at them towards the light surface. They also have a conspicuous, elliptical white patch behind each eye and a gray marking in front of their dorsal fin known as a ‘saddle patch’. Orcas have a crescent-shaped blowhole near the top of their head and their mouth is filled with around 80 large cone-shaped teeth…

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