Killer whale Orcinus orca (Linnaeus, 1758)

Suborder: Odontoceti Family: Delphinidae

Sightings in Madeira

Spring to Summer

ID characteristics

Rounded body, mostly black with a white patch behind each eye and flanks and white undersides, from throat to abdomen
Big conical head and large paddle-shaped flippers
Very tall dorsal fin centrally positioned in body length

Surface behaviour

Acrobactic and active at surface
Sometimes inquisitive and approachable
Often breaches, lobtails, flipper-slaps and spy-hops


Worldwide, from parallels 80º North to 80º South
All oceans though most commonly in the polar regions


In groups between 3 to 25 individuals


Fish, seals and some squid


Max length: 9.8 m
Adult weight: 2.9 to 9 ton


Bushy shaped and not very tall

IUCN Status: Data deficient
Madeira frequency status: Rare

Other languages common names

ENG - Orca, Great killer whale, Grampus
GER - Schwertwal
FRA - Orque, Épaulard
ESP - Orca, Ballena asesina
SWE - Späckhuggare
DAN - Spækhugger
ITA - Orca
NED - Orka, Zwaardwalvis
NOR - Spekkhoggar, Vagn, Staurkval
POL - Orka, Miecznik
POR - Orca, Baleia assassina

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