Killer whale

(Orcinus orca)

Biggest and most powerful of the dolphins, an adult killer whale is unmistakable, in particular the male, with its huge, triangular dorsal fin, sometimes one and a half metres or more high. In parts of the world this species may reach ten metres in length, and weigh up to eight tonnes. The black and white colouration is striking and diagnostic. The throat, chest and belly are white with patches extending onto the flanks at the rear. There is also a distinctive white, oval patch just above the eyes on the large tapered head. A creamy-grey saddle behind the dorsal fin varies in shape and size. The flippers of both sexes are large and paddle-shaped.

Killer whales tend to travel in close-knit family pods. In the Arabian region pods of less than ten are documented, though larger pods may occur. They have mostly been sighted in offshore waters, including in the anchorage area of the Port of Fujairah. However, mothers with calves have also been seen in shallow waters of Abu Dhabi.

Prey in the region may include other cetaceans as well as turtles, seabirds and a range of fishes and cephalopods. Killer whales are relatively rare in the Arabian region, but sightings have become more common in recent years.

This species is considered by IUCN to be data deficient.