Featured Image Credit: Rebecca Wellard
ABC Esperance out of Southern Australia received an extraordinary report earlier this week. Two rare marine mammals were spotted just off the coast… a pod of orca whales and the even rarer beaked whales.
Rebecca Wellard is the Curtin University PhD candidate who managed to set her eyes on the far-from-friendly encounter. The killer whales were actually preying upon a beaked whale.
Over the past 3 years, in the Bremer Bay Canyon, Wellard has been studying the whale’s behavior. The canyon is a noted biodiversity “hotspot” roughly 40 miles off the southern coast of Western Australia. Boiling over with rich marine life, the canyon is also home to other apex-level predators like sharks, giant squid, and sperm whales.
The featured image above is just one of Wellard’s many spectacular photos that were taken during the recent research expedition. The PhD candidate commented, “[Beaked Whales] are an elusive, deep-diving marine animal. They’re quite unique to see in Australian waters, so to see them getting predated upon by killer whales was extra special.”
The high profile mammals have varying diets around the globe and have been known to eat beaked whale remains. Although, according to Ms. Wellard , “It’s the first time, in the entire world, it’s been seen that killer whales have actively chased down and hunted beaked whales”
While orca whales are somewhat of a rare sight in Australian waters, the beaked whale is even more elusive. Wellard mentioned that there are some species of beaked whales that live so deep below the surface that we only know about them because of their skeletons!
It’s highly likely that the beaked whale was a juvenile, which made it a no brainer for the killer whales’ next meal. Due to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Wellard and her crew made sure to stay 50 meters away and did their best not to interfere.