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Orcas sometimes spy-hop, holding their heads and upper bodies out of the water, to look for prey. (Photo courtesy of the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer)
Orcas (Orcinus orca), also called Killer Whales, are the largest members of the dolphin family, and are common in all oceans, including the Southern Ocean. They have distinctive black-and-white coloration, a large conical head, and males have a tall black sharply pointed dorsal fin that can reach 1.8 meters (5.5 feet) tall, while female dorsal fins are smaller. Orcas near Antarctica often travel in family groups from two to ten, and can swim up to 50 km per hour (25 miles an hour). They feed aggressively in groups, from open water to the ice edge, attacking their prey: fish, squid, penguins, birds, seals, dolphins, and occasionally larger whales. Orcas sometimes spy-hop, holding their heads and upper bodies out of the water, to look for prey.
Species: O. orca
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