Rare video: killer whale tosses dolphin high in the air as she teaches her calf to hunt

By TravelWiseDec 24, 2023 23:31 PMNews
Rare video: killer whale tosses dolphin high in the air as she teaches her calf to hunt
Killer whales can swim at 25 miles per hour. Source: pexels

A rare sighting demonstrates the hunting strategy of an apex predator. It involves the use of its large size and speed to get food.

In the video, a killer whale teaches her calf to hunt by hitting the dolphin's head, forcing it to flip several times in the air. The rare footage was captured by a whale-watching expedition off the coast of San Diego. This is stated in the material of nbcnews.com.

"The killer whales catch the dolphin, but release it after it is tamed because it is no longer so fast, and they bring the killer whale calf to try to catch it themselves. To see that level of communication and understanding was like watching a family," said Domenic Biagini, the wildlife filmmaker who shot the footage.

Biagini founded Gone Whale Watching, one of several companies that spotted the pod of six killer whales off the coast of San Diego. He said the hunt lasted about 30 minutes, much longer than the average killer whale hunt.

As one of the ocean's top predators, killer whales use their large size and speed in their hunting strategies, said Alice Schulman-Janiger, a marine biologist and co-founder of the California Killer Whale Project. It is common for them to slow down prey to demonstrate the hunt to their calves.

"Orcas can easily move at 25 miles per hour. To punch a hole in a dolphin's side and hit it so hard that it jumps so high out of the water is a huge force," the biologist added.

According to Alisa Schulman-Janiger, the killer whale in the footage is so young that its eye patch is yellow, not white, the color that fades as it gets older. These are eastern tropical Pacific killer whales that typically live in the waters of Mexico and Central America. They are rarely seen in the relatively warm, calm waters of Southern California.

The biologist says that the large dolphin population in the area is likely less accustomed to hunting killer whales.

"We try to explain to our guests that while what whales do to dolphins can sometimes be quite terrifying, it's normal and healthy. It means that our ecosystem is functioning as it should," said Alice Schulman-Janiger.

Still, Biagini says he often cuts out parts of his video that get too gory to avoid over-sensationalizing the violence of the hunt.

During the killer whale sighting, there were 12 to 15 boats in the water around the pod trying to catch the rare sighting. Inexperienced operators around the herd risk interfering with their hunting behavior or potentially striking them.

Marine mammal protection guidelines published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicate that boats should try to stay at least 100 yards away from killer whales - or the length of a football field.

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