Featured Image Credit: Winky via Flickr
Killer whales off the coast of California have gone on a recent killing spree over the last couple weeks, killing four gray whales in total. One of them being a vulnerable grey whale calf.
This past Wednesday, a group of sightseers on a whale watching tour had front row seats to a spectacular event in nature, but at the same time proving it isn’t always butterflies and rainbows. A pod of nine orca whales were spotted separating a helpless gray whale calf from its mother and then proceeding to kill and eat it.
Young orcas were seen swimming nearby and observing how the females approach their prey and the strategy used to take it down.
Events like this are rarely seen up close and in person, but this time it was even captured on camera.
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Killer whales are known to prey on gray whale and humpback whale calves, seals, sea lions, dolphins, tuna and great white sharks, among other marine life. However, scientists are calling this killing spree “unprecedented.”
“This has never happened in my thirty years,” Nancy Black, a marine biologist with Monterey Bay Whale Watch, told The Chronicle, “Just to witness that out in nature when you usually see that kind of thing on television is really spectacular.”
Monterey Bay is actually a favorite hunting spot for orca whales to intercept migrating gray whales.
While it usually takes hours for killer whales to kill a grey whale calf, this time it only took 20 minutes. The grey whale mother gives a valiant effort to protect her baby by striking at the orcas with their massive tails, powerful enough to severely injure or kill an orca. This time, she was’t successful.