Orcas (Killer Whales) are known as the raptors of the ocean. Hunting birds, dolphins, seals, and sharks they are on top of the marine food chain.
And now for the 1st time, marine researchers witnessed a pod of Orcas (Killer Whales) hunt down the largest creature on the planet – An adult Blue Whale.
Although Orcas have been known to hunt calves of other whale species, hunting an adult Blue Whale wasn’t recorded or witnessed until now.
However, there was an incident where the Killer Whales attacked and killed a Blue Whale calf, scientists also recorded many failed attempts to take down a fully grown Blue Whale. The finding report was documented in Marine Mammal Science.
The research vessel was still an hour out from its regular orca-observing zone due to the bad weather. And while clearing some debris from the waters, the researchers spotted splashes of fins of Orcas which were hard to identify due to the pouring rain.
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And soon they came across a dozen Killer Whales that were attacking something. Upon closer observation, they realized the hunted was an adult Blue Whale.
“Within seconds, we realized they were attacking something big. Then we realized, oh my, it was a blue whale,” said John Totterdell, a biologist at Cetacean Research Center in Esperance, Australia, in a report.
The Blue Whale was estimated to be 18-22 meters long. There were tooth marks on its flank and a bitten dorsal fin. The blubber of the whale’s snout was ripped open along the top tip to the bone.
Researchers stated that 3 Orcas rammed into the giants’ side, while one Orca ripped its tongue. The whale succumbed after an hour-long battle.
Orcas are the most intelligent hunters in the ocean. They strategize ruthless plans like this one to hunt preys that are many times bigger than them.
“This is the biggest predation on the planet, we haven’t seen things like this since dinosaurs were here, and probably not even then,” said Robert Pitman, a cetacean ecologist at Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute in Newport.
Researchers documented Orcas (Killer Whales) hunting a Blue Whale calf in 2019 and a juvenile in 2021.
All the 3 attacks happened along with the continental shelf drop-off offshore of Bremer Bay. This is the dangerous territory of more than 150 Orcas for migrating whales.