Grandmason, Terra The Nature Conservancy, Seattle, Washington.
Last reviewed:March 2020
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- Killer whale, published December 2015:Download PDF Get Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Killer whales, published June 2005:Download PDF Get Adobe Acrobat Reader
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A predatory, cosmopolitan cetacean mammal, Orcinus orca, found typically in cold ocean waters. Killer whales (Orcinus orca) [Fig. 1] are top (apex) predators in the marine ecosystem, with no natural enemies other than humans. These carnivorous whales, often referred to as orcas, feed primarily on fish, great whales, sea lions, seals, and sea otters. They are the largest members of the oceanic dolphin family (Delphinidae) in the Odontoceti subgroup (toothed whales). Adult males can measure up to 9 m (30 ft) in length, whereas females are smaller, measuring up to 8 m (26 ft) in length. See also: Cetacea; Mammalia; Marine ecology
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