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Rare Dramatic Footage Shows Orcas Attacking Gray Whales

A dramatic scene off the coast of Monterey Bay, California, last week when a pod of 30 hungry orcas attacked two adult gray whales

A dramatic scene played out off the coast of Monterey Bay, California, last week when a pod of 30 hungry orcas attacked two adult gray whales in a rare display of predatory force.

Evan Brodsky, of the Monterey Bay Whale Watch tour company, captured drone footage of the violent episode, which lasted a stunning five hours. The video shows the orcas plunging into the much larger gray whales, all of them thrashing about in the huge water battle.

Black-footed albatrosses and juvenile gulls feeding on blubber that has floated to the surface while killer whales are feeding on the carcass of a Gray whale calf they killed earlier. Behind the birds, the only adult male of the pod is breathing at the surface before going back down to feed. FRANCOIS GOHIER/ACCUWEATHER

“Our researchers and guests were able to watch this amazing event unfold for over 5 hours in Monterey Bay,” Monterey Bay Whale Watch stated Friday on Facebook, a day after the incident. “Multiple orca pods joined together to pursue these two full-grown adult Gray Whales. We were able to observe the unique hunting strategies of the pods and the rarely seen defensive strategies of the two grays.”

Other news affiliates had caught the whales in danger as the video content was graphic while the gray whales were under attack. 

“Monterey Bay and its marine life are always fascinating and unpredictable, but this event was unlike any other we’ve seen!” the tour company said in a post on social media.

The entire incident finally ended when the badly wounded gray whales managed to split up and escape to shallow waters toward the beach and “the orcas backed down,” according to the whale-watching staff.

The tour company shared the entire March 30 footage on its Facebook page on Saturday.

Orcas, also called “killer whales,” are known for their distinctive black-and-white patterned body.

It is common for orcas to prey on gray whales, which they mainly target calves that far more vulnerable than adult gray whales.

Marine experts said it’s quite rare for the species to prey on significantly larger whales, like the gray whale.

“Usually, killer whales will hunt gray whale calves as they head up to their northern feeding areas with their moms (from mid-April to May), but these were not calves!” the whale watch company noted in its post.

Orcas are extremely fast swimmers and have been recorded at speeds of up to 33.5 mph, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation. They were actually given the name “killer whale” by ancient sailors who saw them preying on large whales. They are the largest members of the dolphin family.

In recent days, an Orca named Chainsaw was spotted by in the Salish Sea in the Pacific Northwest. His presence of his telltale was the sign of spring.

“A Chainsaw sighting is a telltale sign of spring,” said Erin Gless, executive director of Pacific Whale Watch Association. “He makes an appearance at roughly the same time each year. He’s a local celebrity.”

It wasn’t the only recent attack by orcas on much larger whales. This week, a pod of orcas attempted to make a meal out of a blue whale, the largest animal on Earth, off Bremer Bay in Western Australia. The blue whale managed to escape as the scene was documented on video by a nearby whale-watching tour boat.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

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