Surf's Up Magazine

Great White Shark vs Orca

  • Date: February 13, 2024
  • Time to read: 7 min.

While there are many distinctions between orcas, or killer whales, and great white sharks, they do share a few striking similarities.

Readers may compare a number of these characteristics. They can learn more about the challenging yet fascinating lives led by these two species of sea animals, that are the great white shark vs orca.

great white shark vs orca

Great White Shark vs Orca: Main Differences

The top five significant distinctions between the great white shark vs orca are as follows.


The great white shark is 15-16 feet in length and weighs up to 2,450 pounds, whereas the orca is 19-26 feet long and weighs up to 9,000 pounds.


The great white shark prefers warmer seas around the coast, but it may be found in all major oceans. Orcas dwell in all of the world’s oceans and can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures (some orcas have been sighted in the North and South Pole waters).


A great white shark’s crescent fin and sharp-jaggered teeth are evident, as is its grey and white hue. Orcas are black and white, with a huge dorsal fin that extends from their heads to the back of their tails. Unlike the great white shark, they have a narrow waist in order to swim through water quickly.


The diet of great white sharks is primarily sea lions and fish, whereas that of orcas is exclusively seals, dolphins, and fish.


The typical life expectancy of orcas is 30-40 years, whereas great whites can live to 70 years in captivity.

What is a Great White Shark? 

A large mackerel shark species is the great white shark. They can be found in all oceans throughout the world. The biggest individuals have been verified as up to 30 feet long and up to 5,000 pounds, although most are smaller.

The orca is the only known natural predator of the great white shark. This huge whale has been observed to prey on sharks ranging in size from tiny to enormous. Orcas have long been blamed for driving the megalodon extinct, based on historical evidence.


The heaviest fish species is the great white shark, weighing between 1,151 and 1,700 pounds. The females are generally larger, reaching a maximum weight of 2,450 pounds or 1,110 kg. They range in length from 15 to 16 feet (4.6 to 5.2 meters).

The Great White’s most famous feature is its large mouth. It has a bulging forehead and huge fins, making it one of the most notorious sharks in the world.

Their tails are crescent-shaped, and their bellies are white. This is a typical characteristic of big ocean fauna that aids them in hiding from predators beneath them. The lighter side blends in with the light shining through the water’s surface, while a darker top gives it scope from above predators looking down into the depths of the sea.

shark swimming in ocean


These sharks are found in all major oceans. They prefer temperatures of 12 to 24 degrees Celsius (54 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit). The greatest number can be found off the coast of the United States (particularly in the northeast and west), Japan, Chile, Oceania, and South Africa.

Many of these species are threatened, such as the one found in the northeastern section of the United States. Sharks were almost exterminated in this region owing to overfishing. In the area, populations have recovered somewhat.


The great white shark is a very efficient hunter. They can travel at speeds of up to 21 mph or 33 kph and have a row of about 300 serrated teeth. They, like orcas, have powerful jaws with the ability to bite through steel with ease.

According to films like Jaws, great white sharks do not eat people. They prefer sea lions and fish, but they will occasionally consume smaller kinds of sharks.


The mating procedure of great white sharks, like many other ocean creatures, is somewhat mysterious. However, it is thought to be comparable to the shark kinds of fertilization.

Great white sharks are oviparous, which means they lay eggs after mating. The fertilized eggs are kept inside the female’s body, and the litter consists of two to ten “pups,” or baby sharks. The gestation period is around a year, and when born, great white sharks measure about one meter (3.3 ft).

The oldest verified great white shark, Megamouth, lived to be 70 years old. However, it appears that this is the maximum limit of the spectrum. It takes males twenty-six years to reach maturity, while it takes females thirty-three years.

What is an Orca? 

Orca whales, which are members of the oceanic dolphin family, are black and toothless. Orcas are thought to have three to five subspecies or species. The following are the primary three.

Three Types of Orcas 

There are 3 types of orca species in existence.


Transient orcas are smaller, feed on marine mammals, and travel in smaller groups than offshore orcas. Orcas that live near the coast include transient orcas, who may be seen in Alaska and California.


The orca is a large mammal that has been known since ancient times. It’s often referred to as the “killer whale” owing to its aggressiveness and propensity for attacking humans, but it’s also been dubbed the “killer whale” due in part to its size. The orca is a relative of the killer whale (Orcinus or


the offshore population of orcas lives in the Pacific northeast and was identified in the late 1980s. They are differentiated due to their large scarred dorsal fins and encouraged along Vancouver Island.


Orcas are renowned for their massive dorsal fin and black and white hues. They have a saddle, which is a grey area behind the dorsal fin. Their bodies taper down as they swim through water swiftly like great white sharks, similar to other fish in their family (dogfish).

Despite their reputation as “killers,” orcas are not a danger to humans. There has never been a successful attack on a human being. Some individuals, nevertheless, remain afraid of these sea animals.

orca in canada


Orcas are among the most widely distributed marine mammals, with a wider range than any other mammal. They may dwell in coastal regions surrounding many nations and can survive in any type of climate. They may be found around the equator as well as in polar seas.

The most plentiful of whales, according to experts, exist around the Norwegian shoreline, the Aleutian Islands, the Gulf of Alaska, and off Antarctica’s coast. Other well-known locations where the whales can be seen include British Columbia in Canada, Washington, Oregon, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands.


Orcas have a varied diet. Some orcas only eat fish, while others hunt, which is where their name derives from. They prey on other dolphins as well as seals. Orcas have been observed attacking larger whales, such as baleen whales..

Orcas may be seen beaching on land to capture seals. This means they leap out of the water, fall onto ice or sand, grab their prey, and drag it back into the ocean.


Every three to ten years, a female orca gives birth to one kid. This period of slow development is partly responsible for the orca’s population decline.

Orcas are born with a grayish tint. The calf nurses for several times an hour for days until it is weaned, which takes approximately seventeen months. Female orcas age at around ten years old and reach puberty at about twenty years old. 

Menopause occurs in orcas only, and they can live well past the age when they are no longer able to reproduce. Another fascinating fact is that males reach reproductive maturity at the age of fifteen but don’t reproduce for another five years. They have a shorter lifespan than female orcas, living 30-60 years versus 50-100 years.

Threats to Orcas and Great White Sharks

Killer whales and great white sharks, like all marine animals, are at risk from industrial fishing, nets, pollution, chemical spills, sound pollution, and climate change. The killer whale and the great white shark are among the big creatures at a high trophic level who are threatened by ocean pollutants.

Orcas are more sensitive to one specific poison, polychlorinated biphenyls, than other cetaceans (baleen whales and toothed whales). It may accumulate in the blubber of orcas, which is hazardous in particular when food is limited and the whale burns its blubber for energy.

The great white shark has been hunted for hundreds of years and continues to be targeted despite the fact that it is now classified as a “vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This is due, in part, to outdated hunting methods and, in part, to a long-held perception of the creature as a killer.

Because of illegal human fishing and methods such as by-catch, the IUCN classifies great whites as “vulnerable.” Shark fin soup, a dish in some countries, is one of the major reasons for overfishing.

In certain cases, sharks become trapped in fishing nets intended to protect beaches. The Marine Mammal Protection Act ensured, in1972, the protection of great white sharks, especially on the US coast.


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