Ya folks, you heard me right.
The black and white giants are in fact not whales.
Orcas, commonly called Killer Whales, are a part of the Ondontoceti marine mammals which are categorized as ‘toothed whales’. This however, is slightly misleading. While yes, Orcas have teeth for predation, they are NOT whales; they’re actually dolphins.
Kingdom: Anaimalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Mammalia, Order: Artidactyla, Family: Delpinidea, Genus: Orcinus, Species: O. orca
Shocker right? But Orcas are quite incredible creatures. They are one of the few natural known predators of sharks, a top apex predator in marine food chains.
They were also heavily a part of Native American history. From using the bones as tools, blubber to make oil, to legends of their creation, Orcas have been observed and documented by many coastal Native American tribes. They are very closely linked with Tulalip people in Washington State. They are seen in many forms of art such as carvings, paintings and clothing.
Orcas represent strength, family, vigor and mightiness, and power, and understandably so, these majestic dolphins are considered some of the most incredible and strong animals swimming the cold Pacific Ocean.