On October 25 off the coast of Victoria, Canada, an orca known as T69C hurled a Pacific harbor seal 80 feet into the air with its tail. This scene was caught on film by Mike Walker, who is the owner of Roll Focus Productions. He was shooting a promotional film for Eagle Wing Tours, a whale-watching company.
According to the Huffington Post Canada, Walker said, “We do a ton of whale watching, but this is fairly rare. Brett Soberg, owner of Eagle Wing, mentioned to us that it’s only the fourth time he’s seen an orca do that in about 20 years. It was spectacular. You can hear me yelling ‘Yes!’ over and over in the video.”
Flinging around seals is one of the ways orcas hunt for them and other prey.
Orcas dwelling near the Antarctic shores have been spotted swimming in a group to make a wave that saps seals into the water to be easy pickings for the killer whales. With smaller prey like herring, orcas in Norway have used a method called carousel feeding. This involves using air bubbles to gather fish at the surface, and then stunning or killing them with a tail slap before being swallowed.
Killer whales have also been spotted hunting sharks. They have used their tails to make a vortex that forces a shark to the surface. Then, a quick tail slap stuns it and permits the orca to flip it over, leaving the shark paralyzed. The shark is put in a state called tonic immobility.
The term “killer whale” has negative connotations, but one has to admit that their hunting techniques are quite clever.
These hallmarks make them one of the most ominous predators in the marine world. It’s hard to believe that some of their fellow killer whales act so cute and harmless at Sea World and other theme parks.
Enjoy the video below that shows the whale punting the seal 80 feet into the air, courtesy of Roll Focus Productions.