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National Marine Conservation Areas of Canada

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Canada’s National Marine Conservation Areas System Plan

Killer whale or Orca (Orcinus orca)

Killer whale or Orca
© Parks Canada / Dorothea Kappler, 1995

There are two distinct races of killer whale off the coast of British Columbia. «Transients» occur offshore and feed mainly on other marine mammals, including dolphins, sea lions, seals and other whales. «Residents» are common near shore in summer and feed on fish, primarily salmon. Killer whales, also called orcas or 'blackfish', live in tight associations called pods which are matriarchal in nature – in other words, the whales remain with their mother for life. Orcas are one of the most widespread of cetaceans, occurring in all the world's oceans, including the Arctic and Antarctic.


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