Nearly one week ago, a group of orcas was filmed while attacking and feasting on a shark off the coast of California. The rare occurrence was captured on video by photographer Slater Moore on December 13th, around Monterey Bay.
Orcas Attacking and Eating a Shark
The recording shows a group of four individuals, two calves and two females viciously attacking a 5-feet sevengill shark. The experts who later analyzed the video believe that the small group of predators was originally part of a larger one, composed of nearly 25 offshore orcas.
The video soon caught the eye of the scientific community as offshore orcas are seldom caught on camera attacking and ultimately feasting on sharks. Furthermore, because the sub-species of killer whales is so elusive, scientists only discovered offshore orcas in 1988. According to researchers, offshore orcas can rarely be seen in Monterey Bay. Furthermore, they do not know for sure where exactly do offshore orcas spend their time in between periods when they surface.
The Center for Whale Research says that only a handful of offshore orcas have been encountered in the inland waters of British Columbia and Washington State. The rest of the sightings occurred mostly near Haida Gwaii and off the coast of Vancouver Island.
Offshore Killer Whales’ Diet
Researchers keen on offshore orcas know that sharks are the killer whales’ favorite food. Other than sharks, offshore orcas also like to feast on squid and fish. Scientists that studied killer whales’ carcasses washed ashore discovered pieces of shark in their stomach. By analyzing the fat tissue, the scientists could back their claim, as the blubber indicates that shark makes for a killer whale’s favorite course.
“Stable isotopes and persistent organic pollutants supported a diet of a long-lived fish relatively high in the food chain”, reads the Wild Whale official website on the offshore orcas’ favorite food.
If there were any doubts whether offshore killer whales prey on sharks before the video surfaced, the scientific community can now tell for sure that the vicious predators feast mainly on one of the oceans’ most prolific predators. Ultimately, researchers cannot tell for sure if the offshore orcas are endangered. However, experts believe that the offshore killer whale population is declining.
Image Source: Pixabay