Subject: Killer Whales (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Fri, 25 Oct 1996 15:26:26 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Thu, 24 Oct 1996 19:32:25 -0700
From: Steve Frohock <>
Subject: Re: Killer Whales

Sonia wrote:
> I'm currently doing a research paper on the communication behavior among
> killer whales. During my research process I've come across a problem in
> identifying whether a killer whale is a whale or dolphin. It would seem
> that the word whale in the name killer whale would solve this, but some
> of the sources I've come across state that the killer whale is the
> largest member of the dolphin family and others say that it is more
> related to the dolphin. Furthermore, other sources state that the word
> whale in the name is used to denote the size and appearance of the
> animal. I've looked at the classification chart of ceteceans--only to
> get myself more confused. Please attempt to clear up this confusion for
> me in an easy answer.
>                    Sonia

   There should be no confusion in reputable texts. Killer whales, 
Orcinus orca, are the largest member of the family Delphinidae, the 
family of "true dolphins", which includes bottlenosed, common, striped 
and white-sided, just to name a few.

Thanks for the question.

Steve Frohock