Fun Killer Whale Facts For Kids

Oluniyi Akande
Oct 20, 2022 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Natalie Rayworth
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla
Here are killer whale facts and information to learn more about these marine mammals.

Killer whales (Orcinus orca), or most commonly termed the orca, are a sight to behold. They have gained the status of being one of the biggest members of the dolphin species.

They are found in almost each and every ocean around the world and are ranked amongst the most distributed species of dolphin. Orcas are the most powerful predators that are easily recognizable by their black and white smooth skin.

Out of all species of whales and dolphins, orcas are known to be in every ocean. Orcas are apex predators and sit at the top of food chain.

If you want to learn about these orcas, then we have curated this article for you. You will learn interesting facts about orcas, their ideal habitat and how they reproduce. After reading these fun facts about orcas, you may also look at facts about right whales and common dolphins.

Killer Whale Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a killer whale?

The orca (Orcinus orca) is one of the biggest marine mammals and predators that are present in the ocean. They are the largest member of the dolphin family and are a type of mammal.

Orcas are also one of the biggest oceanic species of mammal, and are known to prey on every other creature that is there in the ocean.

What class of animal does a killer whale belong to?

Orcas (Order Cetacea), like many other whales and dolphins, belong to the class of mammals, which mean that they give birth to their young ones, unlike other small fishes that lay hundreds of eggs at once.

How many killer whales are there in the world?

The estimated population of orcas is 50,000 all around the world. They have been counted as one of the most Endangered species that needs to be safeguarded, and are near to being Extinct if not protected properly.

The biggest range of orcas, or the place with the highest population of orcas, is said to be the Pacific ocean, which has around 2,500 orca.

Where does a killer whale live?

Orcas are known to live in the ocean and coastal waters. They are very well adapted to their habitat and have even taken up various adaptations to continue living efficiently in the ocean.

Orcas are known to live in small groups of 40 individual killer whales. This group of orcas are called a pod. The resident pods and transient pods have been differentiated by their population in Washington and British Columbia.

What is a killer whale's habitat?

An orca lives in the ocean and coastal waters that are usually nowhere near human establishment. They are found in almost all oceans over the world and large populations have been found in cold water oceans, including the Arctic and Antarctic. They are known to be well adapted to both cool and warm water habitats.

Who do killer whales live with?

An orcas habitat is the ocean, where they are known to live in pods. They are really social creatures and are even known to socialize in their favorite food hunting spots and follow group hunting techniques (similar to those of wolves).

They also have varied frequency sounds that are identifiable among these pods which helps them to communicate amongst themselves.

How long does a killer whale live?

Orcas have a very long lifespan which ranges between 60 to 80 years, almost like humans. However, the life span of an orca can be decreased by many factors. In fact, they sometimes live a lot less than this when kept in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

Orcas belong to the class of mammals and are known to give birth to their young ones one at a time. They are known to give birth almost every three to 10 years which is not very frequent. Their gestation period is around 15 to 18 months.

What is their conservation status?

Orcas have been listed among one of the most Endangered species of marine life that is known to cause almost no harm to humans. They are considered to be Endangered by IUCN and other organizations, due to various different factors and threats, but the data is not sufficient to reach to a confirmed conclusion.

Therefore, the official status of the orca species is listed as Data Deficient. Various programs like Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery Plan are being run in the United States to improve their population.

Killer Whale Fun Facts

What do killer whales look like?

Killer whales (or orcas) are the most identifiable marine creatures. They have smooth black backs with their undersides being white, as well as white patches below their eyes.

The male killer whales have huge dorsal fins when compared to a female orca, that they are used to identify and differentiate between males and females. They have extremely large teeth that are known to grow up to 4 in (10 cm).

Behind the dorsal fin, there is a gray patch called a 'saddle' whose appearance varies greatly across different species.

A killer whale has black and white patches.

How cute are they?

They are really cute and have smooth black backs with white patches below the eyes and on the undersides. They are very cooperative and are believed to love humans. In fact, they rarely show signs of aggression towards humans.

How do they communicate?

Killer whales have adapted really nicely to their habitat and use echolocation as navigation and means of communication. Their pods have varied sounds that are used to communicate different things. They also produce whistles, pulsed calls, echolocation clicks, jaw claps, and low-frequency pops to communicate within their groups.

How big is a killer whale?

An orca is one of the biggest predators found in the ocean and can measure up to 192-312 in (16-26 ft) in height. They can also weigh up to 12,000 lb (5443 kg). They are gigantic and are compared to a truck for their size. They are the largest member of the dolphin family.

How fast can a killer whale swim?

Killer whales have marked their territory as being one of the fastest swimming marine mammals and are known to have a speed of around 28 mph (45 kmph).

How much does a killer whale weigh?

Killer whales are one of the biggest creatures in the ocean and are known to grow as heavy as 12,000 lb (5443 kg) which is equal to four really muscly human beings. They are gigantic and equal the weight of around three giraffes at once.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Unlike many other creatures, there are specific names given to the male and female species of killer whales. Male killer whales are called bulls, while a female orca is called a cow. Baby killer whales are called calves.

What would you call a baby killer whale?

As a marine mammal, killer whales are known to give birth to their young ones that are called calves.  During each pregnancy, a killer whale gives birth to one calf. The calves are about 102 in (8.5 ft) long and weight 260-350 lb (117-158 kg) when they are born.

What do they eat?

Killer whales, especially adult males, are believed to eat up to 300 lbs (136 kg) of food each day. Killer whales are also known for their varied diet amongst all the members of cetaceans.

Killer whales live in family groups, and each and every group of these whales specializes in the foraging behavior that helps them feed on their favorite food. Their favorite prey includes seals, sea lions, sea turtles, and various types of fishes.

Are they dangerous?

In regards to humans, killer whales are not considered life-threatening or dangerous mammals. They have accounted for almost no incidents of human attacks. But only on very rare occasions have they harmed, or killed, humans. They are rather human-friendly and try to understand and connect with humans.

But the case is entirely different for marine creatures, as killer whales are one of the top predators in the ocean and are known to bring down other marine monsters, usually while in their groups (called pods). During a hunt, they are found to be working together and are known to maintain social structures.

Would they make a good pet?

Orcas, or killer whales, are not good pets and are not suited to live in captivity. They are really huge and are well adapted to oceans.

Whether or not killer whales should be kept in captivity has been a topic of debate for years. But most marine life experts believe that killer whales, or orcas, are social creatures that are really intelligent and are eager to create bonds with humans as well.

These whales are really human-friendly but can also be dangerous because of their size and playfulness. They could harm you without thinking about it.

Did you know...

Killer whales are really loud creatures that have learned the physics of underwater. They can make sounds that are louder than that of a jet.

The main point of difference between male and female species of killer whales is its dorsal fin which is tall and straight for males, whereas it is a lot smaller and curved in the case of female killer whales.

Killer whales are well adapted to ocean life and use echolocation for hunting and communicating with one another.

Female killer whales, or cows, are known to live almost ten to 20 years more than males.

To draw a really easy killer whale, just draw a big oval shape, make some triangle shapes for the dorsal fins, and colour with black and white pencils or pens.

Naming the killer whale

Dolphins and whales are closely related, but whales are considered as much more aggressive and dangerous. The name killer whale was first given by a conservation center as they noticed this species of dolphins being grouped in pods and killing other bigger whales.

The killer whales, or orcas, were also called whale killers or Orcas asesina ballenas. But this was later flipped over, and now they are known as killer whales. They are known as killer whales because they are capable of killing huge whales in groups called pods.

It is also astonishing to know that these species of dolphins are not regarded as killer whales because they kill humans. They almost do not cause any harm to humans and have not attacked a human to date, other than in cases when they feel threatened.  

Killer whales vs. other marine beasts

In order to find out whether a killer whale is a competition to other marine beasts, let’s see who would win in a fight between a killer whale and a white shark.

Both killer whales and white sharks are one of the greatest and biggest predators that are out there in the water. A white shark is considered as no comparison to a killer whale.

Killer whales are almost of similar size to a white shark but even though they are as big as one another, killer whales are much more intelligent than a white shark and are predicted to win the fight.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including fin whale, or blue whale.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Killer Whale coloring pages.

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

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Chandan ShuklaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi, Chandan is a skilled and passionate technophile. He has completed a machine learning training program and is adept in various programming languages. He has been working as a content writer for two years while also striving to become a proficient tech professional.

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