Featured Image Credit: www.DeviantArt.com
By: Kira Krall
Jorge Cervera Hauser was on a mission to swim with (and record!) the ocean’s top predator. He got more than he bargained for when diving in the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California. Curious orca whales appeared and investigated Hauser and the other swimmers. All six of them showed only mild interest until a stingray emerged from deeper water. According to the orcas, that meant play time. Unfortunately for the ray, losing the game was fatal. Watch the video below, taken from over an hour of footage of the interaction.
Orca whales are infamous for their tendency to play with their food. Seals, fish, penguins, even sharks have been the target of this behavior. However, orcas don’t always finish what they start. The six orcas in the Sea of Cortez knocked the ray out in minutes but continued to toss it around in the water column. Over an hour later, the orcas let it sink to the ocean floor uneaten.
David Bain of the Orca Conservancy has a few theories to explain this top-predator behavior. While we may like to think it was a show for the divers, the orcas may have had a miscommunication within the pod. Some individuals could have killed it thinking another member would eat it. It could also be younger members playing stingray ball the way human children play soccer. The ray may have served as target practice for the pod, keeping everyone’s skills sharp.
Whatever the explanation, the highly successful predators did what predators do best: hunt. Read more from our source at National Geographic.