According to a New research in the journal Marine Mammal Science, orcas can hunt and kill the largest animal that ever lived, the blue whale. The work records three blue whale killings that occurred in March and April 2019 and March 2021. “This is the biggest predation event on this planet: the predator with the biggest crest knocks down the young. the biggest prey,” said study co-author Robert Pitman, a marine ecologist at Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute.
The hunts occur off the coast of Western Australia, including in Bremer Bay, the famous killer whale burrow about five hours southeast of Perth. The Bremer Canyon sub-basin is home to the largest population of killer whales in the Southern Hemisphere. A very deep stream in Antarctica, the Flinders Current, enters the canyon, creating nutrient-rich floodplains that provide a robust food chain for marine life to thrive. At the top of that food chain are orcas, with about 200 to 300 individuals calling this stretch of coast home.
Juvenile blue whales have been targeted in two recorded hunts—something that has been observed before—But the third kill involved a healthy adult up to 70 feet long and twice the size of the largest killer whales, which grow to about 30 feet. A group of up to 50 orcs participated in the hunts, with smaller subgroups working together to bite and eventually drown their prey.
Aggressive whaling during the 1900s devastated blue whale populations until global protections were implemented in the 1960s. Pitman believes the Orca hunts showed Blue whale numbers are recovering well: Given that it is likely that killer whales are always targeting blue whales, the fact that they have been observed doing so again suggests that old habits are returning. when the old food source returns.