As apex predators, orcas can prey on whichever marine animal they choose—large or small. During a recent expedition off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, scientists captured rare footage of orcas attacking a 40-foot-long minke whale.
Fair warning, people—this footage is graphic and disturbing. They’re called “killer whales” for a reason, and this clip is a potent reminder as to how these aquatic carnivores earned their name.
As reported in RT, scientists with the Far East Russia Orca Project (FEROP) recorded the encounter while surveying an area off the Kamchatka Peninsula with Team Trip, a partnership between FEROP and the Kosatka Cruises tour company. The video shows a pod of orcas chasing a minke whale to the point of exhaustion (typical orca hunting behavior), and then drowning it and ripping it apart with their powerful jaws.
“It’s an amazing event,” said marine biologist Tatiana Ivkovich, a researcher from St. Petersburg State University, in an interview with RT. “Over the course of all our work, we have once seen orcas finish eating a whale. And here we are, watching the hunt itself. Orcas ate a minke whale, it’s not a big one, up to 12 meters in length.”
Initially, seven adult orcas participated in the hunt, with four joining later. Baby orcas were also involved in the carnage, said Ivkovich. Orcas are seldom seen in Kamchatka’s Avachinsky Bay, so the researchers are going to stick around for a couple more weeks in hopes of making further observations.