Science News

Killer Whales On An ‘Unprecedented’ Hunting Spree In Monterey Bay

Orca whales are going on an unprecedented killing spree, whale watchers in Monterey Bay said. The latest sighting was of nine killer whales attacking a gray whale calf close to whale watchers on a tour boat.

This marks the fourth attack in seven days for the pod, making it one every other day since last Thursday, The San Francisco Gate reports. Nancy Black, a marine biologist working for the Monterey Bay Whale Watch, has been studying the killer whales for decades. Black called this killing frenzy “remarkable” and “unprecedented.”

She said,

This has never happened in my thirty years. Just to witness that out in nature when you usually see that kind of thing on television is really spectacular.

While the killings are violent and may seem sad, they provide a firsthand glimpse of how nature works. According to Black, orcas can hunt from an hour onwards. The mother gray whale normally tries to protect the calf, desperately fighting back with her tail and rolling over with the calf on top.

The pod’s most recent killing took just 20 minutes, and shows a mother whale splashing about in an attempt to protect her calf. Black thinks this mother and calf pair may have been thinner than the others, making them more vulnerable to an attack.

She explained, “This was almost a record for how quick the killer whales attacked the mother and calf.”

In addition, humpback whales have started coming to Monterey Bay earlier. Black said there are as many as 60 to 70 of them now, and they meddle in the killer whales’ hunting activities.

Black said, “Humpbacks like to interfere with the killer whales for some strange reason. They seem to want to protect the prey.” She described how humpback whales sometimes charge to where an attack is happening, blowing their trumpets to get the orcas to back off the gray whales.

Monterey Bay is prime hunting and feeding waters for killer whales as gray whales swim up the coast.

 

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