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Dieren en planten

Mens en Milieu



up to 10 meters


up to 10,000 kilograms


black with white


Males up to 40 years, females up to 70 years


seals, cetaceans, large fish, birds such as penguins


people, from pollution

  • Dut: Orka (zwaardwalvis)
  • Lat: Orcinus orca
  • Eng: Orca (killer whale)
  • Fren: l'orque (le) (l'orque ou épaulard)
  • Ger: Schwertwal
  • Dan: Spækhugger
  • Nor: Spekkhogger
, Marijke de Boer


Orcas, also called killer whales, are the largest member of the dolphin family. They often hunt in groups, driving a school of fish together and chasing them to the surface. They sometimes patrol along shores, for example when hunting seals. They will even throw themselves onto the shore in order to grab their prey. That is a risky business for orcas: if they beach too far, there is a possibility that they can't get back into the water. A group of orcas lives in the northern part of the North Sea, around the Shetland and Orkney Islands.

  • Spotted in the North Sea
    Orcas, Marijke de Boer
  • Distribution of killer whales
    Distribution of the killer whale, Ecomare

    Orcas are found in all the seas around the world, with a preference for cooler waters. They are very common north of Scotland. They are also regularly spotted in the northern North Sea. When found in the southern North Sea, the animal is off course. This means that they are rarely seen in Dutch waters.

  • Stranding on the Dutch coast
    DatePlace and details
    4 December 1783 Domburg, pregnant female
    1811 Engelsmanplaat
    15 April 1832 Ameland (alive but killed)
    30 November 1841 Wijk aan Zee, female
    prior to 1887 Katwijk aan Zee
    1895 Den Haag, Wassenaar beach
    7 September 1909 Noordwijk aan Zee, young male
    1918 Egmond aan Zee
    November 1918 Zandvoort
    August 1921 Vlieland
    November 1921 Wieringen, male
    end of April 1926 Lightship Haaks, male
    20 July 1931 Terschelling, male
    5 January 1935 Wissekerke, male
    21 October 1936 Noordwijk aan Zee, female
    10 July 1937 Texel, female
    22 September 1937 Terschelling
    14 October 1937 Ameland
    8 July 1943 Terschelling, pregnant female (alive)
    20 July 1943 Terschelling
    8 July 1945 Noordwijk aan Zee
    28 December 1947 Schiermonnikoog, aged male
    summer 1958 Terschelling
    15 August 1959 Schiermonnikoog
    20 July 1961 Goeree
    10 October 1963 Texel, male
    18 October 1963 Noordwijk aan Zee
    12 September 2009 Scheveningen, old skull
    23 June 2010 Wadden Sea by Lauwersoog, young female, alive
    Source: Kompanje, 1995
  • Orca Morgan

    Orca Morgan was rescued in the Wadden Sea in June 2010. She was emaciated, weak and ended up in this shallow sea separated from her family. After a number of months in Dolfinarium, this young female was on her way to recovering well. However she was not released back to the sea. A team of international orca specialists reviewed Morgan's situation and concluded that returning to the wild was not an option. Morgan had lost her family and without family she probably won't survive. Kees Camphuysen from the Royal Dutch Institute for Sea Research stated: "By returning Morgan to the wild, you are essentially leaving a three-year old toddler behind in the forest and saying that maybe its mother is somewhere in the area.'
    The Dolfinarium has found permanent housing for her in a zoo on Tenerife. Despite strong protests, a court case and many Morgan tweets, the animal was transported there at the end of November.

  • Swimming toxic containers
    Killer whale, marijke de boer

    In 2005, a study sponsored by World Wild Life showed that all animals in the polar region contain the most toxic materials. Large amounts of CFCs, pesticides and fire resistant materials wre found in their bodies. Because orcas are at the top of the food pyramid, they consume lots of poisons.