Featured Image Credit: Wildlife Observations Worldwide
By Kira Krall
Killer whales that live in the waters near the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina have been filmed feeding in an extraordinary fashion. Watch the action below!
This feeding behavior was first documented in 1976 in Punta Norte, Argentina. Two resident males were seen teaching the whole resident population how to snatch the sea lion pups right off the shore. Today, 13 resident orcas expertly exhibit this type of strand feeding. It has not been documented anywhere else in the world, leading us to believe that it is a behavior unique to this pod.
While an excellent method, the orcas can only feast if there are sea lion pups at the beach in the first place. From February to April, pups spend their time polishing up their swimming skills in the shallows. The slow, inexperienced babies are excellent targets for the resident orcas. They have a catch rate of 50%, compared to the 20% catch rate for adult sea lions.
Tide also plays a factor in whether or not they attempt to grab a pup. There has to be plenty of water for the massive marine mammals to sneak through, otherwise they’d easily strand themselves. Three hours before and after high tide is when the seas offer the orcas plenty of ambush space.
The killer whales are so predictable that the section of beach they feed on is closed to anyone without a special permit. The public can still see the hunting channel from the orca observation point. If you’re ever near the Valdes Peninsula nature reserve, make sure to check out this incredible orca pod!