Watch Jaw-Dropping Drone Footage of Killer Whales Hunting in the Open Ocean

killer whale
© Guillermo El Oso/Shutterstock.com

Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: April 6, 2023

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Hunting is an essential activity for many animals – they simply have to catch prey to survive. It can be a gruesome and brutal process but, as we can see from watching this jaw-dropping footage, it can also be majestic and beautiful.

Elegant Hunting at the Shoreline

In this video, we see a pod of orcas hunting sea lions in shallow waters close to the shore. The first thing that strikes you is how graceful and elegant these very special animals are. Then, it is surprising to see how close to the land they are prepared to come to reach the sea lions. It is easy to see how some of them get beached on the shore sometimes. At one point, two adults appear to swim directly at the land and then change direction at the very last moment.

Finally, after a daring lunge at the shore through the crashing waves, one orca is successful at snatching a sea lion and heads back out to sea with the catch in its jaws. It’s also fascinating to see, from the vantage point of the drone footage, that the prey is shared with other members of the pod. Smaller (and presumably younger) orcas get to eat a share of the catch.

Apex predator: Killer whales

Orcas may breach for fun like dolphins but are considered apex predators.

©slowmotiongli/Shutterstock.com

Orcas Hunting for Prey

Orcas are also called ‘killer whales’ but are not whales at all. They are members of the dolphin family and have a distinctive black body with a white belly, a white ‘patch’ around their eye, and a ‘saddle patch’ behind their dorsal fin.

These amazing animals are very organized and very intelligent hunters. They have been seen working as a team and using clever tactics to secure their prey. Some orcas have been seen herding fish and then using a tail strike to stun them. They also work together to knock their prey off floating ice sheets so that they can attack it in the water.

What is even more impressive, as we see here, some orcas have learned how to beach themselves to catch sea lions and then wriggle back into the water. This is seen in Patagonia, in particular, and is a high-risk strategy for the orca who could get stuck on the shore and perish.

The pod that we see here will most likely be made up of a mature female leader and her offspring as well as her daughters’ offspring. Female orcas experience menopause (as do humans) and stop breeding but remain vital members of the pod. They lead the younger animals to the feeding grounds and help raise the calves!


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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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