Orcas are some of the most intelligent creatures on Planet Earth. They utilize language, have complex social networks, and have demonstrated sophisticated problem solving abilities. Scientists recently witness a pod of orcas using all three of those skills in an effort to hunt a juvenile bowhead whale in the Okhotsk Sea…
Check it out per National Geographic:
For the first time, scientists witnessed how orcas work as a team to surround and kill a juvenile bowhead, which can be three times heavier than an adult orca, according to an August story.
“Once they start to learn something, orcas will keep perfecting the skill, and this family has honed their hunting to require minimal energy,” says Olga Shpak, a biologist at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology in Russia who saw the hunt firsthand in the Okhotsk Sea.
It was not only a chance to witness the little-seen phenomenon up close, but to record (via underwater microphone) the rarely heard calls the carnivorous mammals make after a kill. The scientists also deployed a drone, which gave them an unusual aerial view of the attack.
“The orcas went after the whale for a long time, the drone was up in the air when it practically stopped resisting—it was tired but still sprayed water from the blowhole,” says Inessa Yuryeva, a coordinator for Team Trip, a partnership between the Far Eastern Russian Orca Project and the tour company Kosatka Cruises. Mikhail Korostelev, who shot the video, is the founder of Team Trip, an adventure tourism organization that helps finance orca research not typically covered by Russia’s scientific institutes.
“Everyone was very excited—of course it is awful to see the whale suffer, but this is nature, and it is magnificent to come across a rare sight like an orca hunt up close,” said Yuryeva.
Orcas are the only universal predators among cetaceans, able to subsist on both fish and other mammals, including other dolphins and whales. In general, resident orcas—those that live in the same place year-round—eat fish and squid, while transient orcas, the scarcer type, take down bigger prey.
Check out the video!
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