Social Behavior
Phylogenetic Tree


Where Do Orcas Live?

Killer whales have a very extensive habitat.  They are found it warm, temperate, cold waters and are also found near shore or off shore.  They have even been documented in the Colombia River! Higher numbers of Orcas are often recorded closer to shore and in colder waters.  Near shore is more productive and a good place to catch prey.

The habitats for transient, resident, and offshore Orcas are slightly different (as their names would imply).  Resident Orcas often over-winter somewhere, but they return to the same spot every year during the summer.  Transient Orcas move more randomly across a greater area.  Not much is known about the offshore Orcas, except that their pods are usually found far out in the water.

Because they have such a large variety of habitats, it is very hard to study the migration patterns of the Orcas.  Scientists still do not have a very good understanding of where they over-winter.  It is recognized, though, that they often migrate to where their prey migrates. The areas where Orcas are studied most extensively are off the coasts of Iceland, Norway, southern Argentina, the Crozet Archipelago, New Zealand, west coast of Canada, and the west of the United States.

The blue indicates the areas around the world where Orcas can be found.