A group of marine biologists spotted four killer whales eating a massive shark in Monterey Bay, although the animal was still alive. The whole scene was filmed by Slater Moore, a drone pilot and wildlife photographer.
During the Monterey Bay Whale Watch trip, Moore noticed the orcas who didn’t seem to care that there was a boat not far from them. As such, he immediately launched a drone to get a closer look at the whales.
The experts underline that those weren’t just any orcas, but offshore killer whales. These animals have rarely been seen hunting because they stay underwater most of the time, feeding on sharks and squids. Also, they are not as large as transient or Bigg’s killer whales.
According to Moore, there were two females with two calves around the shark. Marine biologist Katlyn Taylor says that the shark seemed to be a sevengill shark. This subspecies grows up to ten feet long.
However, the shark eaten by the group of orcas was probably five feet long and bigger than the killer whale calves. The crew was not surprised to witness such an event. Still, the scientists did not expect to come across killer whales in the middle of a hunt.
When dead orcas are washed ashore, the marine biologists conduct a full autopsy. As such, they usually find shark bits inside their bellies. Also, their teeth are most often damaged due to the shark skin which is very difficult to chew.
The offshore killer whales come to the Monterey Bay once a year. Little is known about these animals’ activity during the rest of the year. Nevertheless, these elusive orcas have been spotted multiple times while they were traveling from southern California to Alaska.
Transient killer whales are usually monitored by marine biologists because these orcas spend a lot of time in Monterey Bay. It is worth mentioning that the studies on transient killer whales cannot be applied to offshore killer whales as well, because these two types don’t hunt the same animals, and they don’t interbreed.
According to Taylor, studying offshore killer whales is very difficult because they are fast swimmers. In addition, they travel long distances and hold their breath for a long time.
Image Source:Africa Geographic