Orcas (Killer Whales) surface and jump in the Pacific Ocean boundary waters between the United States and Canada.
Orcas (Killer Whales) surface and jump in the Pacific Ocean boundary waters as they transit during migration between the United States and Canada.
The killer whale or orca (Orcinus orca) is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. Killer whales have a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in particular types of prey. Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals such as seals and dolphins. They have been known to attack baleen whale calves, and even adult whales. Killer whales are apex predators, as there is no animal which preys on them. Killer whales are considered a cosmopolitan species, and can be found in each of the world's oceans in a variety of marine environments, from Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas.
Killer whales are highly social; some populations are composed of matrilineal family groups (pods) which are the most stable of any animal species. Their sophisticated hunting techniques and vocal behaviors, which are often specific to a particular group and passed across generations, have been described as manifestations of animal culture.
Wild killer whales are not considered a threat to humans, but there have been cases of captive orcas killing or injuring their handlers at marine theme parks. Killer whales feature strongly in the mythologies of indigenous cultures, with their reputation ranging from being the souls of humans to merciless killers.