Orcas, also known as killer whales, are basically the lions of the sea. They are massive apex predators who hunt in packs to take down prey much larger than themselves. Footage of orca hunts is rare, but new technologies are allowing scientists to capture moments that have never been seen before. This is the first time a juvenile bowhead whale being attacked by a pod of orcas has ever been documented, and the film is equal parts bad*ss and horrifying.
Killer whales are called so for a reason. They are strict carnivores that have adapted to hunting all kinds of marine life. Each orca pod is different and has its own unique customs and survival strategies. Some are more equipped to hunt seals and sea lions, while others focus on bigger game. There are even cases of killer whales attacking sharks. Whether it's orcas hunting sharks or orcas hunting whales, this video makes it very clear that you don't want to be on an orca's menu.
This Particular Pod Of Orcas Has Practiced Taking Down Whales In A Cold And Ruthless Manner
Orcas are incredibly intelligent animals. They have the ability to learn and perfect different attack strategies as a pod. The pod in the video above is well known to orca researchers as a group of whale hunters who are both efficient and ruthless. Past experiences have taught the pod to use minimal energy in their attacks, and now the orcas can take down their kill with practiced ease.
Each Orca Has A Specific Role
This attack is as coordinated and precise as a professional bank robbery, with each member of the pack knowing their specific role and carrying it out with deadly efficiency. The younger members of the pod stay by the whale's head, blocking any chance of escape. Several other whales take turns tackling the bowhead, jumping on top of the target to tire it. This also makes it difficult to reach the surface for air. The adults pull on the bowhead whale's fins in order to keep it from swimming toward shallow waters, where maneuvering can be much more difficult.
The largest whale and matriarch of the pod has the most important job. She continually rams the whale at high speeds, crashing her head into its ribcage. This shatters the bones, causing excruciating pain and making it impossible to swim away. With all these orcas working together, the bowhead never stood a chance.
Bowhead Whales Are Much Bigger Than The Orcas
While it's hard to tell, the poor creature being attacked is a juvenile bowhead whale. These massive marine mammals can grow up to 60 feet in length. In comparison, the largest orcas only grow to be about half that size. While the bowhead in the video was young, researchers estimate its length at about 26 feet. Even at this size, it can weigh up to three times what an adult orca would. That's no small whale, especially when you're trying to hunt and eat it.