A drone managed to capture a group of offshore killer whales while they were preparing to feast on a shark. The carnage was filmed thus providing the first piece of solid evidence that orcas feed upon other large marine predators.
Slater Moore, a professional photographer, was using a drone to film the waters of Monterey Bay when the device captures some extraordinary footage. The video, which is now circulating on social media platforms, shows a pod of offshore killer whales, hunting and devouring a shark.
According to scientists, the hunting party is formed out of two calves and two female orcas. They originated from a bigger pod of 25 whales that was swimming in the vicinity of the Monterey Bay waters.
It seems that the marine mammals captured a sevengill shark which measured 5 feet in length. The shark was relatively young of age as the species’ average adult size can reach up to 10 feet in length.
Moore’s footage is a valuable contribution to the scientific community as offshore killer whales usually elude researchers, the scientists having little data on the marine mammals. Moreover, it is one of the rare images featuring a marine predator eating another creature that shares a top position in the food chain.
Offshore killer whales usually visit Monterey Bay once a year, the short timeframe being the only chance researchers have to study the rare creature. Scientists do not know where and how the animals spend the rest of their time.
According to the Whale Research Center, offshore killer whales were only sighted a few times in the waters of British Columbia and Washington State. They have also been spotted in the vicinity of Haida Gwaii and Vancouver Island.
Marine biologists were suspecting that orcas have a steady shark diet, but they only had a handful of evidence to support their theory. It seems that when they analyzed the blubber and teeth of orcas, they found that the persistent organic pollutants, the fatty acids, and the stable isotopes were consistent with a diet rich on large predators.
They have also found chunks of shark meat in the stomach of killer whales that washed ashore. However, the scientists did not dismiss the possibility of the whales feasting on sharks that were already dead. The new viral video proves that offshore killer whales are higher up on the food chain.
Image source: Flickr