Killer whale, worldwide, up to 10 m (33 ft) long The killer whale, or orca, is the largest member of the dolphin family, found in all oceans of the world. It has distinctive black and white colouring and grows up to 10 metres (33 feet) long, although it is usually 6–8 metres (20–26 feet) in length. The killer whale feeds on fish, penguins, seals, sea lions, other dolphins and even whales larger than itself, depending on where it lives. A fearsome hunter with no predators, the killer whale is also a highly intelligent animal, peaceful towards humans. The social bonds shown by family groups are as close as those of elephants, great apes and humans.
Types of killer whales
Three types of killer whales have been identified. One type, called residents, live in family units called pods, and feed on fish and squid. They stay in the same area of coastal water. The second type, called transients, do not mix with the residents. They travel in small groups, without any strong family bonding, and roam more widely along the coast. They feed only on marine mammals: seals, sea lions, other dolphins and whales. A third group, the offshores, travel far from shore and feed mostly on schooling fish.
The killer whale is one of the fastest mammals in the water, reaching speeds of up to 55 km/h (about 35 mph).
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