Killer Whale

  • Irish name: An Chráin dhubh
  • Latin name: Orcinus orca
  • Size: Males 9 m, females 7.9 m
  • Diet: Mackerel, herring, salmon, ocean sunfish, seals and other marine mammals

The largest member of the dolphin family, killer whales have a bulbous head, circular flippers and the tallest dorsal fins. They are sexually dimorphic, so males can easily be distinguished from females with their larger 1.8 m tall dorsal fin. Large white “eye” patches occur along the side of the head along with a pale “saddle” patch behind the dorsal fin. The rest of the body consists of a combination of white along the underside and black along the back.


Typically observed cruising slowly and may approach vessels, breach, tail or flipper slap. Spy-hopping may occur while foraging or interacting with boats.


Two killer whale populations occur: the “Scottish West Community Group” that are known to feed on marine mammals and offshore killer whales that interact with pelagic trawlers off the northwest coast.

Killer Whale Sightings 1977 – 2018

Downloadable Detailed Species Information


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