Epic Drone Footage Captures Aerial View of Killer Whales on the Hunt

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: October 19, 2023
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The orca pod in this stunning clip shows us that it is possible to be beautiful and brutal at the same time! The pod is hunting eagle rays off the coast of New Zealand. Scroll down to see how the mother orca passes on her hunting skills to the younger members of the pod.

Watch the Amazing Clip Below

Spotting Orcas at Sea

Orca (Orcinus orca) are a very widespread species and are found in oceans all over the world. They move around looking for sources of food but do not seem to migrate in any meaningful way or pattern. Although they will live in deeper waters, they can often be found visiting coasts to hunt for food. Identifying orcas from drone footage is quite easy as they have a distinctive black-and-white pattern on their body.

Their dorsal surface is black but they have a white coloring that extends from the bottom of the chin towards the rear of their body. They also have a white spot above their eye. Historically they have been quite difficult to study in the wild, but with the advent of drone footage, we are learning more about them.

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Do Orcas Live in Groups?

Orcas are highly social creatures that live in groups called pods. Within the pod, there is a complex social structure and it can contain up to 50 individuals. All of the members are usually related and there are multiple generations within the group. The majority of the group (around 60 percent) are females and immature males. Around 20 percent of the pod are mature males.

Education forms a big part of the pod’s activities! The mature members teach the younger killer whales how to hunt. The older killer whales also know where the best feeding grounds are located. Pods hunt as a group in the same way as lion pride uses cooperative hunting to increase their chances of success.

Killer Whale, orcinus orca, Female with Calf

Orcas live in groups called pods with complex social structures.

©slowmotiongli/Shutterstock.com

What Do Killer Whales Normally Eat?

Killer whales are carnivores and are very accomplished predators. They eat a wide variety of prey that includes seals and sea lions. They will even eat small whale species and dolphins. When it comes to smaller prey, they target fish (including rays as we see here), squid, and sea turtles. Killer whales have also been spotted catching seabirds and even sea otters. They need around 100 pounds of food a day to keep them healthy, but some eat a lot more than that.

Small prey will be swallowed whole but larger prey needs to be torn apart before it is consumed. Sadly, this is what we can see happening to the ray in this clip.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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