Fisheries Infosite

Orca (ORC)
Scientific name
Orcinus orca

Killer whales, or Orca, are the most widely distributed mammal on earth other than humans. It is most commonly found at the poles and in cooler waters where it prefers deeper water, but can be found in shallow bays and estuaries. They typically group into family groups or pods which stay together for life.

They are classified as ‘Nationally critical’ by the New Zealand Department of Conservation and as ‘Lower risk by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. New Zealand estimates have put the population at around 200 individuals.

Killer whales feed on a wide variety of prey, and are the only cetacean that prey on other marine mammals. They have been documented to attack more than 35 species fo marine mammals, including blue whales. They also eat a variety of fish species, squid, octopus, sea birds, and sea turtles.

International Union for Conservation of nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red list

New Zealand Threat Classification System list

DOC threat status: 1 Nationally critical
IUCN listing: Lower Risk
Average maturity age: 15
Maximum age: 80
Adult survival average: 98.758
Litter: 1
Reproduction frequency
(per year):
Demographic data source: Females only - Ford in: Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals
Population: 200
Population source: Suisted & Neale 2004

3 items
Category Environmental impacts
Effects on ecosystem
Predator - prey unbalances within an ecosystem details
Effects on other species
Potting (Deepwater crabs) - Occasional whale and dolphin entanglements. details
Effects on other species
Potting (Red rock lobster) occasional whale and dolphin entanglements details