Killer Whales Capture And Feed On Great Whites In Incredibly Rare Drone Footage

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: October 22, 2023
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The term “killer whale” comes from their original moniker, “whale killers,” which sailors gave them after observing them whale-hunting. The name eventually changed over time. The word “orca” is derived from the Latin species name Orcinus orca, which means “Kingdom of the Dead” in English. 

Watch This Unbelievable Video Of One Apex Predator Killing Another!

Killer whales take down a great white shark

There is something incredibly alluring about these giants of the water with their strength, elegance, and intrigue! Drone footage caught jaw-dropping footage of a pod of orcas in Mossel Bay, South Africa

In the spring of 2022, a pod of killer whales went on a several-hour-long killing spree. Anything in the path of these creatures was considered up for grabs. Apex predators, or those at the top of the food chain, include killer whales. Like other odontocetes, they consume fish and squid, but they will also hunt down seals, birds, and even whale species that are much larger than themselves. 

Additionally, killer whales are the only species known to feed on great white sharks. The footage captures the first evidence that orcas hunt white sharks on the coast of South Africa

Apex predator: Killer whales

Orcas are considered an apex predator.


The weight of an orca’s brain can reach 15 pounds. Language, memory, and emotional ability are all well developed in large brains due to excessive folding or gyrification, which enables orcas to have a sophisticated civilization. These large brains also help them have incredible hunting techniques. 

How Do Killer Whales Hunt?

The killer whale is the most dangerous animal to ply the open oceans, in contrast to the amiable images presented by aquatic theme parks. It has a mouth full of three-inch long, interlocking teeth and can reach top speeds of 30 miles per hour. It can weigh up to 11 tons as well.

Animals That Use Sonar

Killer whales are the only species known to feed on great white sharks.

©Alexander Baumann/

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like an animal that I want to have an interaction with. When pursuing seals, they close ranks and rush the ice floe where seals seek safety, generating a massive wavefront. They dive beneath the surface just before striking the ice, using their tails to give the wave one more boost. The resultant water wall wipes the seal off as it crashes over the ice floe.

The orca has perfected a method for eliminating pointy-toothed snacks we call white sharks. The killer whale propels the shark to the top on a watery vortex by employing its broad tail. It then makes a tiny turn and extends its tail far into the air before bringing it crashing down on the shark’s head. 

Then, the killer whale flips the shark over, placing it into a coma that researchers refer to as “tonic immobility.”

The photo featured at the top of this post is © slowmotiongli/

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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