With a bit of luck, you can also watch orcas (killer whales) in False Bay or Walker Bay of South Africa on our Cape Town shark tours. They have been spotted many times even during whale watching in Hermanus. Killer whales, brown fish or killer whales are other names of the killer whales, which is often used in German-speaking countries.

Orcas - Killer Whales - Orcinus orca - Cape Town Shark Tours in South Africa

Orcas or killer whales

Who does not know them, the hunting techniques of the orcas, which belong to the largest species of the dolphin family and are assigned to the toothed whales. They occur predominantly in colder areas such as the Antarctic

When they are hunting seals, they use special techniques and follow the seals to the beach. In ice areas, where seals are often on ice floes, they generate waves until the seal falls into the water.

They communicate with each other using different dialects and are highly intelligent.

Killer whales orcas

Orca  profile:

  • Name: Orca, killer whale, killer whale, killer whale, brown fish
  • Subordination: toothed whales
  • Predator: it is considered the largest predator in our world
  • Latin name: Orcinus orca
  • Class: mammals
  • Body length: ± 10 meters - female: 5 - 6 meters - male: 7 - 10 meters
  • Weight: 6,000 - 9,000 kilograms
  • Life expectancy: between 50 and 80 years
  • Top speed: ± 55 km / h
  • Daily swim coverage: approx. 200 kmCommunication: different dialects with a series of screeching, whistling and screaming sounds. They are able to use approximately 12 to 15 different calls. Researchers are currently investigating whether individual groups use different calls for communication.
  • Special features: biological sonar - they use ultrasound sounds to scan their surroundings and can thus identify family members or visitors from their school.Body color: black and white
  • Fin: approx. 0.60 to 1.80 meters in adult males
  • Pectoral fins: up to 2 meters long
  • Tail fin (Flunke): about 2.8 meters wide
  • Teeth: about 10 cm long
  • Diet: carnivores
  • Food: small whales (porpoises), dolphins, fish, elephant seals, salmon, king salmon, octopus, ketal axis, cod, sole, halibut, seals, fur seals, penguins, sea birds, smaller white sharks and other types of sharks (Pacific sleeping sharks)
  • Food requirement: up to 300 kg a day
  • Special feature: fish eater or mammal eater - depending on the region and food supply. Fish-eaters form groups of up to 50 animals - mammal-eaters form a group of approx. 5 animals.
  • Distribution: all oceans, even in the Mediterranean
  • Sexually mature females: 13 to 14 years
  • Sexual maturity of the females: up to the age of 40
  • Sexually mature males: 13 to 14 years
  • Special feature: bulls only mate at an age of 20 to 21 years
  • Mating season: late autumn to early winter - North Atlantic: November to January - North Pacific between May to June.
  • Pregnancy frequency: every 4 to 5 years
  • Gestation period: 15 to 17 months
  • Young animals: 1 calf
  • Calf weight: 170 to 200 kg
  • Calf size: 2 to 2.5 meters
  • Calf suckling period: 12 months
  • Heartbeat on the water surface: a heartbeat every second
  • Heartbeat under water: 30 beats in a minute
  • Lungs: he can press 46 liters of air into his lungs
  • Social behavior: group animals
  • School leader (group): older female
  • Attacks on humans: not known in the wild - except in captivity
  • Red list: yes
  • famous feature film: Free Willy

Orcas Tours 

Great White Sharks basically have no enemies, but the killer whale hunts especially smaller shark species. Depending on its size, it appears under the great white shark when it attacks and creates a giant water vortex. The attacked shark swims to the water surface and wants to orientate itself and ward off the attack. At this very moment, he swims around him and knocks the shark out with his fin.

Great White Sharks

Great white sharks

Larger killer whales know that the Great White Shark has a very tuff skin that has many small skin teeth. He lets the youngsters go first and waits until he has the chance to capture the nutrient-rich liver, which can weigh up to 400 kg depending on the size of the prey.

The white shark's liver is very well developed and accounts for approximately 20 to 40% of its total body weight. An adult orca does not want to damage his teeth in his approach.

The killer whale has a rich food supply in South Africa. It catches larger fish, seabirds (cape boobies, penguins) seals, fur seals, dolphins and squids (squid - Decabrachia).

He also often attacks larger whales with their offspring. Younger right whales are very afraid of the predator. It has often been observed that they bow to their fate and, as if paralyzed, show the big tongue to the killer whale. The orca attacks and the whale bled to death without a chance.

This shows in particular that nature can sometimes be cruel, but everything has its cycle and meaning in the animal kingdom.

On some days, Walker Bay at Hermanus is crowded with right whales. From time to time a killer whale appears out of nowhere.

Orcas great white sharks and whale watching

With his mighty jumps, he enchants many whale watchers who can watch the animal first-class from an elevated rocky coast. Shortly before, 60 to 100 whales could be observed and in the next moment you can no longer see a single whale.

For safety reasons, the whales dive and wait until the orca has left the nearby coastal waters.

Whale watching and shark diving

Animal researchers divide killer whales into three groups. The latter group has not been sufficiently researched. They differ because of different food choices.
  • Bigg's orcas - migratory marine animals - largest orca - used to be called: transients
  • Offshores - sea animals living far from the coast - feed on sharks are rare
  • Residents - localized & localized marine animals - mostly researched
Killer whales are often seen in a group and coordinate their attacks on prey. They swim long distances in the world's oceans and know exactly what time of year the food supply changes.

Around Cape Town there are small islands where seals and penguins have their offspring. Especially in spring is the killer whale active in these areas and finds easy prey here.

Cape gannets on approach

Cape Gannets Lamberts Bay fur seals

He is particularly successful with Cape Boobies when they have their offspring. The young birds make their first flight attempts and land in the sea. There the predators are waiting for the special day and are capturing the young birds en masse. Fur seals and great white sharks also participate in this hunt and sometimes kill 50 flightless young birds or more.

If you want to watch Cape Boobies, we would like to recommend Lamberts Bay. The small fishing village is located on the west coast of Cape Town. Here you can visit a large colony and watch the seabirds take off or land. Fur seals and seals are also nearby.

Cape Gannets

Mating of the killer whales, young animals and gestation period

Each group has its own dialect. The female prefers a male from another group. Thus, inbreeding cannot occur within the family. After mating, the male takes no father role and swims back to his family. The time of mating is late autumn to early winter. The gestation period is approximately 15 to 17 months. A youngster is born and breast milk is supplied for about 12 months. The females become pregnant again every four to five years.

Dolphinarium - every zoo needs its attraction

Killer whales are part of it and are kept in small pools. Some zoos have succeeded in breeding and are proud to point this out.

They do not need to be proud of it, as it is a great pain for the marine mammals. They become aggressive towards their peers and also attack humans.We reject captivities of great white sharks and killer whales because the marine animals are not kept appropriately.

If you are going to travel to South Africa in the near future, we would like to invite you to our shark tours in Cape Town. Cage diving is offered in Gansbaai, where the white shark nursery is located.

We look forward to to hear from you

Your Cape Town Shark Tour Team


Contact for Orcas