Amazing video captures an orca flipping a dolphin upside down while teaching its cub to hunt

In an incredible video captured on a whale-watching expedition off the coast of San Diego this week, a killer whale teaches her baby how to hunt by headbutting a dolphin, causing that it has been disturbed many times in the wind.

“The orcas catch the dolphin, but let it go after it’s defeated because it’s not that fast, and they bring the baby orca to try and catch it themselves,” said Domenic Biagini, a wildlife filmmaker who captured the footage. “Looking at the level of communication and understanding is like looking at a family.”

Biagini founded Gone Whale Watching, one of several companies that spotted the pod of six orcas off the coast of San Diego on Monday. He said the hunt lasted about 30 minutes, which was longer than the average orca hunt, because they were teaching their young.

As one of the ocean’s apex predators, orcas are known to incorporate their large size and speed into their hunting strategies, said Alisa Schulman-Janiger, a marine biologist and co-founder of California Killer Whale Project. It is common for them to slow down the prey to show the hunt to their children.

“Killer whales can easily travel 25 miles per hour,” he said. “To punch a hole in a dolphin’s side and hit it so hard that it jumps out of the water is very powerful.”

The orca in the footage was so young that its eye patch was yellow instead of white, a color that eventually fades as it ages, Schulman-Janiger said.

Where do whales come from?

The whales in Biagini’s footage are Eastern Tropical Pacific Orcas, which usually live in the waters of Mexico and Central America, according to Schulman-Janiger. They are rarely seen in the same warm, calm waters of Southern California.

The abundant dolphin population in the area is probably not used to killer whales hunting them, according to Schulman-Janiger.

“We try to explain to our visitors that even though what whales do to dolphins is sometimes scary, it’s normal and healthy,” Biagini said. “It means our ecosystem is functioning the way it should.”

However, Biagini says he often cuts parts of his footage that are particularly gory to avoid over-sensationalizing the violence of the hunt.

“Think of us at a Thanksgiving feast”: Orcas celebrating the hunt

After Monday’s hunt, Biagini said the orcas began approaching the boats and poking their heads out of the water to see what was going on in a behavior known as spy hopping.

A lot of social behavior is common among orcas after a successful hunt, as they celebrate and often zig zag back and forth in the water, Biagini said.

“Think of us at a Thanksgiving feast after we eat, when we’re in a good mood and laughing. That’s what killer whales look like after a hunt,” Biagini said.

As of 2020, interactions between orcas and human vessels have increased, although no human deaths or injuries have been reported. That prompted the phrase orca wars to start trending on social media, describing a fictional war between humans and killer whales.

The dangers of whale watching

During the orca sighting on Monday, Biagini said there were between 12 to 15 boats in the water around the pod all trying to catch the rare sight.

Too many boats without experienced operators around a pod of orcas runs the risk of disrupting their hunting behavior or possibly hitting them, Schulman-Janiger said.

The Marine Mammal Protection Guidelines issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) specify that boats should try to stay at least 100 yards or the length of a football field from orcas.

At one point, Biagini said he was so worried about the orcas boxing in so many boats that he got on the radio to warn others to stay away.

In a video he captured, a man driving a boat alone left the wheel to lean on the deck and film a video.

Biagini said it’s often frustrating to see people get too close to orcas to film a video on social media, noting that many viewers don’t stop to ask how it happened. got it.

“As much as I want to get the shot, the most important part of it is to get them in the most ethical way. We focus on trying to be stewards for the animals,” said Biagini.

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