Kɪʟʟᴇʀ Whale with a Dolphin in Its Mouth
Orcas are known to be voracious ᴘʀᴇᴅᴀᴛᴏʀs, but not many people get the chance to witness them in action. So when photographer Evans Baudin not only witnessed a ʜᴜɴᴛ, but also captured it on camera, he felt particularly lucky.
“That lucky day, I was able to document a complete scene, from start to finish, of their ʜᴜɴᴛɪɴɢ strategy off the coast of Los Cabos. It was absolutely amazing how organized they were to separate the dolphin from the rest of its pod,” Baudin shared on Instagram. “It seemed that every move of the orcas was planned long in advance, like a synchronized dance repeated hundreds of times and with sᴜʀɢɪᴄᴀʟ precision … The dolphin had no way of escape. The ʜᴜɴᴛ lasted about 40 minutes before the group of Kɪʟʟᴇʀ whales could finally capture the dolphin and share it.”
Since Kɪʟʟᴇʀ whales often ʜᴜɴᴛ at very high speeds, especially when pursuing a dolphin, the orcas will sometimes subdue ᴘʀᴇʏ by bodily impact, sᴛᴜɴɴɪɴɢ it before ʙɪᴛɪɴɢ into it. “Imagine being a whale chasing a dolphin at 20 knots. It really can’t open its mouth because the drag on its lower jaw would be pretty ʜᴏʀʀɪꜰɪᴄ,” said John Ford, a whale biologist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “So they tend to just ram them, and in doing so, the ᴘʀᴇʏ often do go flying in the air.” When capturing ᴘʀᴇʏ, Kɪʟʟᴇʀ whales use a number of chilling tactics. Some of these, like repeatedly ʀᴀᴍᴍɪɴɢ into a pod of sperm whales, are seldom seen. Others, like flipping a stunned creature out of the water and then ᴇᴀᴛɪɴɢ it, are more frequently reported — but seldom captured in such detail as the photos in this gallery. In Baudin’s sᴛᴜɴɴɪɴɢ photo of the events, a mother orca and its offspring share a piece of dolphin meat. Orca diets depend on where they live, Baudin said, and Baja California orcas have been documented feeding on rays, sharks, turtles, dolphins and even whales. “I have seen this with several different species of dolphins from various places around the world, so I think that Kɪʟʟᴇʀ whales probably do this regularly but not commonly,” he said.
“With slower swimming species, like seals and sea lions, Kɪʟʟᴇʀ whales prefer to use their tails to swat them out of the water.” Kɪʟʟᴇʀ whales, collectively known as Orcinus orca, form matrilineal family groups, with adult male sons sticking by their mothers for life, Baudin said. They’re the largest member of the dolphin family, and can be found in oceans all over the world. Though the world’s orcas have historicall