- Killer whale / Orca. Scientific name: Orcinus orca
The killer whale, also called orca, is the largest member of the family Delphinidae with a length of 7 to 9 meters and an average weight of 6 tonnes (depending on the sex). In spite of this imposing stature, the orcs were captured as early as the 1960s. In 1964, the director of the Vancouver Aquarium, Dr. Murray Newman, commissioned a sculptor to collect a specimen of killer whale in order to carry out a life-size sculpture for the aquarium yard. During the "hunt", the sculptor choosed a young male observed South of Vancouver. Several harpoons were fired that day, but the animal did not die. Dr. Newman therefore decided to drag the orca to the aquarium, using the harpoon ropes. The first captive orca in the world was named Moby Doll, and quickly became a phenomenon and was the first of a long list.
(Ref : War of the Whales, Joshua Horwitz)
In the wild, there are several populations and ecotypes of orcas. Present mainly in cold and temperate waters, several observations of "tropical" orcas have been reported. These animals live in a matriarchal society where the associations of individuals are very strong. Depending on the population, orcas were seen feeding on marine mammals or fish and possibly cephalopods. Their life expectancy is impressive: the oldest orca known, "Granny" was observed from 1976 to the late 2016 by the Center for Whales Research and died at the age of 105 years.
In the North Atlantic, 3 populations of killer whales were observed: one in Scotland / Iceland feeding mainly on herring, one in Norway feeding mainly on salmon and finally one around Gibraltar feeding on tunas. In October 2017, a group of 5 orcas was observed off the Pyla, heading South. These animals probably migrated to Gibraltar. Studies will be set up in the future to better define this population.
The Killer whale is considered "Data Deficient" by IUCN and classified as Appendix II of CITES.
More information on the conservation status on the following link: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15421/0