The first eye witness account of killer whales attacking and killing a blue whale in the waters off Western Australia has been recorded by researchers
It was the blood pooling in the deep, frothy waters which alerted researchers to the grisly scene unfolding before their eyes back in 2019.
Ahead, they saw a pod of killer whales attacking a blue whale, stripping it of flesh and exposing bone until eventually, the carcass sank.
While such a bloody demise may be hard for some to stomach, the remarkable behavior on the part of the orca pod represented a significant one: the first-ever recorded instance of killer whales bringing down Earth’s largest animal.
The team led by Cetacean Research Centre (CETREC WA) continued monitoring the pod to see if they would do it again.
Just a fortnight later, they did, this time forming a gang of many of the same members from the first attack and hunting and killing a blue whale calf.
Then in 2021, they were at it again killing yet another calf. The murderous talents of orcas has now been published in the journal Marine Mammal Science.
It’s the first records of killer whales (Orcinus orca) killing and eating blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus).
It was previously suggested that for killer whale attacks on large whales to be successful, adult males need to actively participate but adult females and subadults have been documented while adult males have remained on the periphery. Adult males have been known to come late and eat the carcass.