Deep Diving Into Orca Eye Facts That Will Fascinate You!

Oluwatosin Michael
Oct 25, 2023 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Nov 19, 2021
Friendly Killer Whale / Orca
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.5 Min

Marine animals are always a joyous sight while going on a ship cruise or a boat trip to the sea or ocean.

Killer whales are found mostly in the Arctic and Antarctic areas as well as some tropical seas. They are mostly ocean-dwelling creatures who are also raised in captivity.

The orca killer whales are said to be the largest members of the dolphin family species. The size of a male killer whale ranges from 19.6-26.2 ft (6-8 m) in length and near to 13227 lbs (6,000 kg) in weight. These black and white colored animals of the ocean can be seen jumping out of the water while on cruise expeditions, boat rides, or trips. Looking at the eyes and eye patches of the orca whale you might get confused between their real eyes and the white spots they have in their white head side patches. Read on to know more about orca eyes and thereafter, also check how do whales sleep and orca bite force.

Where is the eye on an orca?

The eyes of these mammal species are located right in front of their white eyespot, which is above and behind its mouth corner. An interesting fact about the eye of an orca killer whale is that their eyes are of the same size as the eyes of a cow.

Just like how we humans have different colored eyes, an orca killer whale can also have different shades of eyes like black, blue, brown, and even red. The distinctive white and dark black patterns in the orca's body and face acts like camouflage from dangerous prey and situations. Just like a human, other mammal species, and animals, the orca killer whale also has two eyes, or a pair of eyes to see.

These black and white orca killer whales tend to have acute senses and well-developed senses. These mammal species seen in marine parks and such environments have a white eye patch on their black body. The black and white patches on the body of the orca whale act as camouflage helping them to hide from their prey in the dark black regions of the ocean.

Why do orcas have eye patches?

The natural black and white color pattern and the white eye patches near the killer whale eyes create a false target effect on their prey and predators. Sometimes the prey attacks the killer whales in their eyes while trying to capture them. But the dense black and white patch behind and before their two eyes actually protects their real eyes from these prey animals.

Also, some scientists after research believe these black and white spots behind their two eyes and before it respectively helps the species of orca killer whales to recognize each other's body and their orientation in the dense and dark murky water in the depths of the sea.

The white spot of this mammal's eyes, fins, and body capture attention to themselves when they take a live energetic leap up above in the air. These mammal killer whales of young age have live energy. They have a pretty white patch on their body. This mammal glides through the water and gets recognition by the white patch that highlights them from the rest of their world.

Different ecotypes create different changes in the pattern of the white spots on the head of a killer whale. Even the size and shape change. These different conspicuous eye saddle patches in killer whales help them in hunting, swimming, socially interacting, and coordinating with other killer whale group members.

What do orca eyes look like?

Sea creatures like killer whales are known to have eyes that look a lot similar to cows' eyes. The white patches or splotches near either side of a killer whale’s head near their eyes are called eyespots or eye patches. These eye patches are just a normal coloration in their body. The orca whale eyes can be spotted at the left corner of their eye patches, which is just above the corner of their mouth. Similar to all animals and living creatures, orca whales also have small eyes in comparison to their body proportions.

Orca whales' eyes are placed at the sides of their heads. Just behind the actual eyes, orca killer whales have an oval-shaped spot that looks like its eyes right on the sides of their head. While the real eyes of orca whales are approximately the size of a cow’s eyes. Orcas can have different colors of eyes among their own kind, just like human eyes. They can have blue, brown, or red eyes. Even though killer whales have eyes and sight, they do not rely so much on their eyesight as humans do. The environment in which these whales are seen to swim is under dark and deep sea or ocean regions.

How big is an orcas eye?

Eye sizes and shapes change according to each whale type and species. The most common whale species are the humpback whales, killer whales or Orca whales, sperm whales, Bryde’s whales, Fin whales, Minke whales, Beluga whales, Pilot whales, Blue whales, False killer whales, and more.

We can pretty much see the huge difference between a whale's body and its eyes. Well, both eyes and their body vary greatly in proportion. Also, these mammals like whales and killer whales are known to rely less on their vision and more on their hearing sense. Whales choose hearing sense as their primary sense.

A killer whale eye can be of size near to a baseball. A killer whale eye can grow up to 3 in (7.6 cm) in size. From the killer whale's jawline, the eyes are placed at 8 ft (2.4 m) apart. Even though an orca killer whale is known to have a greater sense of hearing, their eyesight is no less of a function for a killer whale. An orca killer whale is known to have an excellent sense of eyesight in and out of water. One interesting fact about killer whales or orca whales is that they receive and feel sounds and vibrations through the receptors in their jawbones. Killer whale eyes lack visual pigments. It makes them unable to identify colors in the blue light and color wavelengths in the sea and ocean.

Killer Whale Breaching Near Canadian Coast

Why do orcas have such large eyespots?

People might have seen orcas giving their glaring vivid white glances at them. Well, the white patches that we see are not their real eyes. But the color pattern in their skin. Still, now, researchers and scientists haven’t found the real reason for orcas to have these white spots in their face which looks like their eyes. Well, there are two theories that people believe might be a reason for it.

These false eyes on orcas could pay off while dealing with prey or a predator. The large sharks which come to attack the orca killer whales might get drawn to the attention of the false eyes instead of the real ones. Still, it is less likely for any sharks to attack these big killer whale species, as they have been in the sea world for about 10 million years and more.

This was one of the theories that the scientists thought might be a reason for orca whales to have those white patches on their skin near the eyes. While the other theory is that these white spots and patches help the killer whales to identify each other. Also, they communicate using these patches and hints. For each type of killer whale, the saddle patch, or the white or light gray colored patches behind the dorsal fins of these whales differ for each one, these differences help scientists to identify each type.

Conserving Orcas

Today we see fewer marine fishes jumping up on the surface of water bodies. There are very few chances of seeing these animals in the marine world. It might also be possible that members of this species are being affected by the harmful activities of humans. Overfishing is a major threat to these mammals, wiping out populations of fish. Another huge problem that is facing these orcas is toxic pollution in the ocean. Understanding the threats we pose to these species can help us to make changes in order to protect their futures.

Even orca killer whales and dolphins are said to be exploited by some marine parks and by marine hunters. It is important that we take necessary actions in order to protect these wild animals and save our marine world from becoming Extinct. You can step up and make a change for the conservation of these marine mammals like orca killer whales. Get yourself aware of these animals and give awareness to all around you. You can also donate to special donation centers like OrcaLab for their protection and conservation. Also, try not to pollute our nature and clean up after yourself and your surroundings.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for orca eye then why not take a look at orca teeth, or orca facts?

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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