Killer Whales

From their coloration and senses to their size and speed, killer whales are perfectly adapted for life in the ocean.

  • Think hide and go seek—killer whales' striking black and white coloration helps them hide by blending in with the filtered sunlight of the sea.
  • In the deep dark ocean, killer whales use sound to find food and navigate. Through echolocation, they send out sound through the water, which bounces off objects and returns in the form of an echo.
  • Killer whales are the largest type of dolphin and are among the fastest swimmers in the ocean; they can reach speeds of up to 28 mph (45 kph). Beyond their impressive physical features, killer whales are successful because they work together to pursue prey, protect the pod and raise their young.

The ocean is home to killer whales, but we're all connected to the sea. Like us, killer whales are dependent on a healthy ocean.

Our SeaWorld team cares for all aspects of our whales' lives. We work together to develop relationships and teach and practice behaviors as we interact with them in a variety of ways.

Click here to learn more about our care for killer whales, and here to see how our research helps whales in the wild.

Q: How do you train a killer whale?
SW: Positive reinforcement is the key—we’ve developed training techniques to make learning a fun, rewarding experience. SeaWorld trainers use a variety of rewards to reinforce desired behavior, from toys and rubdowns to playing games. Animals and trainers build strong, trusting relationships as they play, exercise and grow together.

Q: What problems do they face in the ocean?
SW: Though killer whales are apex predators of the sea with no natural predators of their own, they are threatened by pollution and overfishing. No matter where you live, your actions can protect marine life. Conserve water. Reduce and reuse. Clean up a coastline. And learn all you can.

Q: How many killer whales have been born at SeaWorld?
SW: The first killer whale to be born and thrive at a zoological park occurred here in 1985. Since then, 30 killer whales have been born at SeaWorld, including the first-ever births through artificial insemination. Our ground-breaking research has potential to help countless other species.