A group of rarely seen type of killer whale was captured on video off the coast of California killing and eating a shark.
Photographer Slater Moore witnessed and filmed a video of four offshore killer whales feasting on a shark around Monterey Bay on Dec. 13.
Rarely-Seen Killer Whale
The group consists of four offshore orcas, two females and two calves, was part of a larger group numbering about 25. The orcas' unlucky prey was a sevengill shark, which was about 5 feet long albeit this species can grow double that size.
The captured scene is a special one not just because these killer whales are seldom caught on video attacking and eating sharks, which themselves have ferocious reputation as predators of the ocean.
Offshore killer whales are also rarely seen, which is why scientists know little about them. Because they are elusive, the sub-species was only discovered in 1988.
Offshore killer whales only appear in Monterey Bay every year or so. Scientists do not exactly know where these marine animals spend their time in between periods when they emerge.
"This third population of orcas found in the northeast Pacific was discovered in 1988. As their name suggests, they travel far from shore and are rarely seen," described the Center for Whale Research of the offshore orca. "Other than a handful of sightings within the inland waters of Washington State and British Columbia, they have mostly been encountered off the west coast of Vancouver Island and near the Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands)."
Predator Of Sharks
Scientists are also aware that these marine animals feast on sharks as well as fish and squid because dead offshore killer whales that wash ashore are often found with pieces of shark in their stomach. Analysis of the teeth and blubber of killer orcas also indicate what is in their diet.
"Scientists have long since suspected that offshore killer whales were preying on sharks. Biopsies of offshore blubber analyzed for fatty acids, stable isotopes and persistent organic pollutants (POP's) supported a diet of 'a long-lived fish relatively high in the food chain', and sharks seem like suitable candidates," the Wild Whale website wrote about the killer whales.
The video of the four killer whales feasting on a shark confirmed these subspecies of orcas are indeed predators of sharks.
No sufficient data is currently available to determine if offshore orcas are in danger but experts think that their population is declining.