Yesterday I saw this amazing documentary on Animal Planet. Where an Orca flips over a Great White Shark. When flipped over, most sharks are immobilized (= tonic immobility). As a result, not being able to swim and “ram” the water into their mouth and let it flow out through their gills, they are unable to breathe. This method of breathing is known as, ram ventilation. The Great White Shark can drown, if being prevented from swimming!
Watch Killer Whale flip Great White Shark
From Youtube, National Geographic.
Apparently, the incident was filmed off the Farallon Islands, situated off the coast of San Francisco California, in October 1997. The orca flips the great white shark upside down, and uses the sharks tonic immobility for his kill. He holds the great white under until it drowns. Remarkably intelligent, isn’t it?! The female killed a 3-4 m Great White Shark. The cruel part is they only eat the shark’s liver and allow the rest of the carcass to sink.
On BBC’s show, Blue Planet, there is an episode, where the orcas hunt a whale calf, that will face the same death. Their hunting techniques can be cruel. They follow a whale and its calf for hours. Tiring the hunted. The orca pack tactically separates the calf from its mother and Kills it. Playing with it. To finally rip out its tongue and liver. Leaving the rest to rot… Ocean planet adds a nice follow-up to the story: Luckily, in the ocean, nothing gets lost! In the next shot, you can observe the calf lying on the bottom of the ocean, being surrounded by various sea creatures preparing to feed. The remains of the calf will feed other oceanic creatures. Still… It remains a bit cruel.
In this video from Ocean Odyssey, the calf survives, thanks to the whale pod that comes to its rescue. The female sperm whales form a circle around the calf, to protect it from the killer whales. Nevertheless, relentless the killer whales continue to attack. Until luckily a full grown male sperm whale, comes to the rescue. The male sperm wales are commonly 30% larger then the females. The calf is saved, for now.
Watch the video on youtube, from Ocean Oddysey
These creatures are extremely intelligent. That’s why I think we shouldn’t fear them. The scientist, Dr. Ingrid N. Visser, studying them actually goes in the water with them. She says: “We are not on their menu ;).” A menu that is apparently passed on from generation through generation… She even wrote a book about swimming with Orcas. Read sample
BBC video of the woman who swims with killer whales:
On the other hand; dolphins, seals, sea lions, whales and even the Great White Shark, rarely escape alive after an encounter with these powerful predators. Their hunting techniques are exemplary!
At one point, in the TV show, they are hunting a seal. The seal jumps onto an ice berg, feeling safe, he relaxes. You can see the Orca pack analyzing the situation. Untill two of them charge the iceberg, creating a huge wave. At the last moment, they duck under the iceberg. The wave causes the iceberg to flip the seal off. Ha Ha! Awesome! Dinner is served!”
Watch an orca pack bounce a seal off an ice berg
From Youtube, reproduced courtesy of Dr Ingrid Visser, OrcaResearch.org
Orcas even hunt the seals on the shore. Watch how these giants work their way up and down the coast. With as biggest danger, stranding themselves. Which will have death as a result.
Watch the orcas hunting seals, off the coast of Patagonia, Argentina
From Youtube, Animal Planet
Watch video on Youtube
Orcas also fancy sting rays, fish, octopuses, penguins, … They don’t really have a predator. Which unfortunately doesn’t get them of the list of endangered species. Due to pollution, capture for marine mammal parks, habitat loss, …
Killer whales are actually the largest of all dolphins.
National geographic Fast Facts on the Orca:
Orcas can be found from polar regions to the equator. They often frequent cold and coastal waters. As demonstrated on this map.
How to distinguish a male from a female orca?
A male orca can be destinguished from a female orca, just by looking at their dorsal fins. As you can observe on this picture. The male orca posesses the longest dorsal fin, up to 2m (6 ft), it is triangularly shaped. The female’s dorsal fin, on the other hand, are smaller, about 1m (3 ft) and the tip curves back.
Not much is known about Orca reproduction. Most that we know about their reproduction is from research in captivity. From what we can tell, we know that they generally participate in playful, social activities before mating. Males become sexually mature at ten to thirteen years of age and females at six to ten years. The female picks a male that she will mate with. They usually mate with a different male or female every time they mate. They do not have a particular mating season, but mating does occur slightly more often during summer.
Orcas have a gestation period that lasts between 16 and 18 months. Once their child is born, it is attached to his or her mother. The mother will nurse her child for as long as three years. They will stay with their mothers and become a member of the pod.
On the Pacific Northwest Coast, the killler whale can be found in indigenous peoples history, art, spirituality and religion.
According to these myths, the killer whale is the most powerful animals in the ocean, living in houses and towns under the sea. Killer whales took on human form when submerged, and humans who drowned went to live with them.
For others the killer whale was the ruler of the undersea world, with sea lions for slaves and dolphins for warriors.
Or wolves in winter, and killer whales in summer,…
Lovely readers, broaden your minds, as would says professor Trelawney. Allow yourselves to believe that Free Willy and Jaws are no text book of systematic behavior for oceanic creatures. Its just a movie :).
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