Pod of orcas captured feasting on blue whale
A pod of Orcas have been spotted hunting down a blue whale, the largest marine mammal on the planet in a world first sighting.
A pod of orcas have been spotted hunting down and killing the world’s largest animal off the shores of Western Australia.
The female led pod, otherwise known as ‘killer whales’, were sighted mauling a healthy 20m blue whale just 40km off the shores of Bremer Bay – about 500km from Perth.
The distinctive black and white bodies of the orcas were documented eating the majestic creatures tongue with female predators leading the attack in March 2019.
The orcas stripped chunks of skin off the blue whale and eventually forcing it underwater and attacking it from above.
The findings by Cetacean Research Centre staff took place in March and April of 2019, although the discovery has only just been released in the Marine Mammal science journal.
Study co-author Robert Pitman from the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University said the paper outlined two separate killings of blue whales by orcas in 2019 and a third death in 2021.
“This is the biggest prediction event on this planet – the biggest apex predator taking down the biggest prey,” Mr Pitman said.
‘These killer whale groups live for human life spans or longer, and so they hunt together cooperatively for decades and decades.”
The largest member of the dolphin family are highly intelligent and use specialised hunting techniques which are similar to a pack of wolves.
A record breaking total of three blue whale killings have taken place off Bremer Bay in the last three years.
Two weeks after the first recorded attack a blue whale calf was hunted and killed by another pod of orcas.
Research fellow at Whale and Dolphin Conservation Erin Hoyte told reporters the orca behaviour of feeding on large whales is very uncommon and as most killer whale pods would not see large whales as food.
“This is strange because elsewhere in the world, killer whales are fussy eaters and tend to learn from their pod how to catch food, and what is food, and they stay with that,” he said.
“This paper is the first to really confirm a blue whale kill and at the same time it provides firm confirmation that killer whales will even go after mature healthy blue whales.”