Killer whale coloration

From: Phil Clapham (
Date: Tue Jan 16 2001 - 10:49:18 EST


Killer whales are probably black and white because of what is called
"countershading". Lots of predators (and prey) have this feature, which
is essentially camouflage. The white on their undersides makes it
difficult for them to be seen from below (since they're seen against the
lighter background of the surface). Similarly, the black above means
that anything above them looking down would be less likely to detect
them since they'd merge with the darkness of the water below.

Phil Clapham

> Roger Littleton wrote:
> Hi, my name is Danielle.I am a homeschooler. I have a question
> about a killer whale. why are tyey black and white?
> Sincerely
> Danielle k. littleton


Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D. Large Whale Biology Program Northeast Fisheries Science Center 166 Water Street Woods Hole, MA 02543

tel (508) 495-2316 fax (508) 495-2258 Internet:

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