A filmmaker in Canada captured rare video footage of a seemingly upset orca tossing a seal several feet into the air off the coast of Victoria in British Columbia.
Mike Walker, proprietor of a local film company called Roll. Focus. Productions., caught the amazing moment on camera while he was recording a promotional spot for a whale-watching firm. Video footage from the rare scene has now become viral online.
"We do a ton of whale watching, but this is fairly rare," Walker said.
"Brett Soberg — owner of Eagle Wing — mentioned to us that it's only the fourth time he's seen an orca do that in about 20 years."
Walker's video shows a male killer whale display its immense strength by flipping a Pacific harbor seal around 80 feet into the air.
While this sort of behavior is not uncommon among killer whales, scenes such as the one witnessed by Walker is rarely caught on film.
Marine mammals, such as seals and dolphins, are a typical target for the predatory orcas. Killer whales use their powerful tails to drive unsuspecting prey to the surface.
Chris Parsons, a marine researcher, said killer whales do not typically eat seals after they hit them. However, when they hit other animals such as Dall's porpoises, the orcas do it in order to eviscerate their prey.
Parsons said the killer whales hit them so hard that the entrails of porpoises pop out. They only consume the blubber and muscle of their prey and leave the innards behind.
Marine biologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) have identified the killer whale in the video footage as T69C.
They have been monitoring this particular male orca from the time of its birth in 1995. The marine mammal belongs to a large group of killer whales, which can often be seen hunting for prey together.