Killer Whale Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Killer Whale Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Are you thinking of getting a killer whale tattoo, but want to know more about its meaning or how to design it?

It’s fair to say that the killer whale isn’t the most popular tattoo choice (perhaps because of the mammal’s name), however, there is an abundance of great meanings and symbolism attached to it. With this being said, it isn’t an unpopular choice either. The orca can make for a beautiful, spiritual tattoo as a great addition to your body art. 

In this article, we will be discussing what the killer whale tattoo symbolises, the spiritual backstory of the killer whale, and offering some stunning tattoo ideas. 


What is the History of Killer Whale Tattoos?

Orcas play a big part in symbolisation in Native American tribes. Since killer whales remain with their family pod for their whole lives, and raise each calf with care, they offer great protection to each other. Because of this, American tribes believe that the killer whale symbol will protect those who are travelling away from home, and help to lead them back when the time comes.

The killer whale is known to them as the ‘Lord of the Ocean’. Orcas are the guardians of the ocean with the seals being their slaves and dolphins their warriors. They believe that orcas are closely related to humans, so it is said that whenever a human drowns, the whales will take them deep down into their underwater villages, and transform them into a killer whale. 


What Do Killer Whale Tattoos Symbolize?

The killer whale tattoo holds powerful symbolic meanings. The mammal is so distinguishable due to its deep black and pure white body, and when it’s in the water it somehow embodies danger and elegance at the same time. For this reason, the killer tattoo can symbolize strength and mystery.

Orcas mate for life. This can be transferred into your tattoo to represent enduring love, loyalty, faithfulness, and devotion. The killer whale is the perfect symbol to show your infinite connection with your partner. 

Other symbols include danger, beauty, power, and gentleness

What Do Killer Whale Tattoos Mean?


This tattoo is also great for anyone who prides themselves on being a good communicator. Killer whales express themselves through an extensive array of unique pulsed calls and whistles. But, they can also communicate with other orcas through their body movements. They have even been known to imitate human speech. 

People will tattoo the killer whale if they feel that being able to express their feelings and talk to people is one of their strong personality traits. 


Killer whales are tactical and highly skilled hunters. When you think of an apex predator, the great white is likely what first comes to mind. In reality, the great white is no match for the killer whale. There isn’t another fish in the sea that dares to hunt them.

For this reason, the orca tattoo can represent royalty. This meaning can be slightly hidden, so to make it more obvious, people will sometimes add royal symbols to the tattoo such as a crown. You could also show this by surrounding the killer whale with smaller fish. 



The meaning of  ‘teamwork’ comes from the fact that killer whales work together when they hunt. For example, they will communicate with each other to herd their prey into a bait ball, and then slap the water with their tails to stun them. 

This is a great choice for anyone who values teamwork or finds great value in working together to achieve common goals.


Female killer whales play a very important role throughout the pod’s social structure. First off, they are great mothers. Time and time again they have been known to continue to guide their offspring long after they need to. Male offspring are extremely loyal to their mothers and rarely have them a long-distance away.

However, male killer whales are not great fathers. They will find females to mate with, and then return to their own families and mothers. All of the raising is left to the female. Furthermore, it is the female orcas that lead their pods, not the males.

The killer whale tattoo can mean that you are a proud mother, or to honour your own mother. 


Peace probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of such a dangerous creature. However, in their daily lives, they are actually extremely peaceful. In their pods, they act with empathy, responsibility, care, and extroversion. 

Peace tattoos are very common, and the killer whale definitely isn’t one of the most popular choices. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for something a bit more cryptic and unique then this is a great option for you. 


You will rarely find a wild orca by itself. They are very social creatures and establish social hierarchies within their pods. Offspring will stay in their mother’s pod for the entirety of their life. 

Because of this, it’s no surprise that the killer whale tattoo is frequented by people who share similar social behaviours. Often, this is illustrated by tattooing a group of orcas. 


From all of the above, it’s clear to see that killer whales are very intelligent creatures. In fact, they have the second biggest brain of all mammals. Their intelligence is key to their survival, and proven by the fact that they’ve been around for so long despite being so large. 

It would be difficult to find a tattoo that represents intelligence better than the killer whale. 


Where Do Killer Whale Tattoos Usually Go?

The killer whale can be tattooed pretty much anywhere on your body. However, you would generally want to place it so that you can show off its entire form. Some popular areas include; the forearm, shoulder, back, or thigh. 


– Characteristics and Styles of Killer Whale Tattoos

  1. A pod of killer whales
  2. ‘Kissing killer whales’, so that the shape from their tails to their heads create a heart
  3. A killer whale inside a quarter moon
  4. A killer whale with a pattern on the black part of its skin e.g floral, galaxy, or metric
  5. A ‘stardust’ killer whale, as though it disappears into dust
  6. A mother killer whale with her calf


Killer whale tattoos are so diverse. There are several meanings and ways to design it, which makes it suitable for almost everyone. The more you learn about killer whales, the more fascinating they become. Despite being apex predators, they encompass many wholesome traits.

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