A large pack of orcas attacked a gray whale calf on April 20th, launching a killing spree that has baffled scientists. Since their first attempt, the group of killer whales killed at least five gray whale calves near Monterey Bay, California.
This Pod Of Killer Whales Already Made Over 5 Victims
Nancy Black, a marine biologist and co-owner of the Monterey Bay Whale Watch, calls the killing spree “unprecedented”. In an interview to the media, she says that she hasn’t seen anything like it in 30 years of experience. She also filmed a recent attack.
The killing is unusual, both in the size of the killer whale pod and in its efficiency. Ms. Black says that she witnessed the pack separate a gray whale calf from its mother in about 20 minutes. Such a feat would normally take hours. Although the first attack consisted of as many as 33 orcas, usually, such pods are made up of 5-10 killer whales.
Another surprising detail: pods of killer whales typically move in and out of the bay area. But in this case, they have held their position, presumably lying in wait for more gray whales and other prey.
Gray whales typically migrate 10,000-12,000 miles on a round trip, from lagoons in Mexico to their feeding grounds in the Arctic Seas. These attacks are preventing some from reaching their destination. However, one gray whale mother successfully defended her calf against the pod.
A reason for the attacks has yet to be established. Ms. Black theorizes that the orcas may be teaching their young to hunt since the youngest in the pod is not yet six months old. They could also be binge-feeding.
Whatever the reason, these killer whales likely won’t stop anytime soon. Since gray whales typically continue to migrate through May, they will have no shortage of prey.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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