By: Ingrid Visser
Edited by: Poul Vendel
The Killer whale was originally named Delphinus orca and takes its name
from the Latin orcus meaning "lower world", and literally
translating to mean the "demon dolphin". Other names include orque
gladiateur which is French and swaardvis which is Dutch, both because
of the large swordlike dorsal fin in the males.
The biggest of the dolphin family, the orca is one of the easiest cetaceans
to identify, with its striking black and white coloration, and on adult males,
the big dorsal fin (almost 2m). The body is basically black above (with the
exception of an oval white eye patch and a gray "saddle patch") and
white underneath. In young calves, these paler areas may be yellow. Orca also
have distinctively round pectoral flippers (only two other cetaceans have oval
flippers- Heaviside's and Hector's dolphins- both less than two meters long).
Killer whales are about 8 m in lengh for males and about 7 m for females.
The location in Africa:
The Killer whale can be found on all African coasts, from inshore waters to more
Approximately 10% of the time Killer whales are seen in the oceans off the
coast of Southern Africa, they have been seen in association with birds of various species. They
have also been reported to kill seabirds off the Southwestern coast and catch
penguins off Namibia. Off Tsitsikamma Costal National Park, in 1979, a man
watched five Killer whales kill a dolphin. Off the west coast of South Africa, orca have
been reported taking fish off long lines. Killer whales are fully protected
around the coasts of South Africa.
Between 1971-1975, the Union Whaling Company, based out of Durban, killed 36
Killer Whales in Natal waters. In 1974, two more were killed, and in 1975 four
Killer whales were
killed. No further records were available to comment on kills in more recent