Species Profile

Killer Whale Northwest Atlantic / Eastern Arctic population

Scientific Name: Orcinus orca
Other/Previous Names: Killer Whale (Northwest Atlantic / Eastern Arctic populations)
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
Range: Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2008
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.

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Image of Killer Whale

Killer Whale Photo 1



Federal Protection

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

5 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment - Killer Whale (2009)

    Killer Whales, or Orcas Orcinus orca, are easily identified by their tall, triangular dorsal fin and their distinctive black and white colouration. Only one species is recognized, but the taxonomy of Orcinus is a subject of ongoing debate.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Killer Whale, Northwest Atlantic / Eastern Arctic populations (2009)

    Threats to this population include hunting in Greenland, acoustical and physical disturbance, which will become greater as shipping traffic increases in the Arctic, and contaminants. This population's small size (fewer than 1000 mature individuals and likely less than 250) and the species' life history and social attributes justify designation as Special Concern.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2009 (2009)

    2009 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Consultation Documents

  • Killer Whale (Northwest Atlantic/Eastern Arctic Population) Consultations on listing under the Species at Risk Act (2015)

    Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) provides legal protection for wildlife species at risk to conserve biological diversity. It also acknowledges that all Canadians have a role to play in the conservation of wildlife species. Before deciding whether Killer Whales (Orcinus orca), Northwest Atlantic/Eastern Arctic population, will be added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk, we would like to hear your opinion, comments, and suggestions regarding the possible ecological, cultural, and economic impacts of listing or not listing this species under SARA.