Where's Whaledo

Resident orca species guide

Killer Whale (Orca)

The orca (Orcinus orca), commonly called killer whales, are toothed whales and the largest members of the Dolphin family. As one of the top predators in the ocean, orcas feed on other marine mammals, fish, squid, sea turtles, and even seabirds. Orcas can be found all over the world, but three distinct groups live on the West coast of North America: resident, transient, and offshore killer whales. Each group varies by prey preference, vocal calls, and social organization. The AR orca was modeled on an adult male resident orca. All orcas face a variety of threats, including habitat loss, prey availability, contaminants, acoustic disturbance, and ship strikes.

The facts listed below can be found in the app and correspond with the numbers on the AR whale.

1. Dorsal fin

Orcas have the largest dorsal fin out of any other whale or dolphin.

2. Saddle patch

Each orca has a unique saddle patch on their dorsal fin that can be used for identification.

3. Diet

This resident orca mostly eats chinook salmon. Transient orca prefer marine mammals and offshore orcas eat a variety of fish.

4. Pectoral fins

Pectoral fins are used to steer the orca in the water, making them excellent hunters.

5. Melon

The “melon” is a bump that emits sounds to either hunt with echolocation or to communicate with orcas.

6. Dolphins

Orcas are the largest dolphins in the dolphin family: Delphinidae.

7. Blowhole

Unlike us, orcas have to think about every breath they take!

8. Eye

Orcas sleep with one eye open because half their brain sleeps while the other half stays awake.

9. Fluke

The fluke (tail) propels the orca through the water.

10. Whale poop

Whale poop provides nutrients to the ecosystem and helps researchers determine what the orcas are eating.

The measurements below can be found in the app when you switch to measurement mode.

Right whale - Species guide

For more information about the species in this activity, read the Right whale - Species guide.

Where's Whaledo - App guide

For more information on how to use the app, read the Where's Whaledo - App guide

Where's Whaledo - Lesson

For more information about this activity, read the Where's Whaledo - Lesson.