Killer whales combine intelligence and teamwork to catch otherwise elusive prey
Orcas use tactical ingenuity to ensure that no marine animal is safe from their advance
Killer whales are apex predators and some of the most dangerous animals in the sea. These mighty cetaceans are powerful enough to secure most of their meals alone, but when the situation calls for it they’ll team up to take down prey.
Seals can present a problem for orcas, hopping onto sea ice to get away from their ocean-bound predators. To combat the seal’s escape strategy the whales have learned to work together, creating large waves that wash their prey off the ice and into their reach.
In order to create this terrifying tidal wave pods of orcas charge towards the floating ice, diving down at the last minute to create a swell that knocks the seal into the water.
This behaviour is unique to orcas in icy regions – different tactics are adopted by groups of killer whales in warmer climates, suggesting that specific group hunting strategies have been passed down through generations of orca families.
Weighing up to 6tn and reaching 9.7m (31.8ft) in length, killer whales are able to generate incredibly powerful waves when hunting