Slater Moore was on a boat with Monterey Bay Whale Watch on Tuesday when he spotted a rare glimpse of the offshore killer whales mid-feast, something the whales normally do deep underwater.
Two adult females can be seen with their calves feasting on the “squirming” shark. The feeding appears to be a teaching moment for the young whales with the adult letting go of their catch so the others can have some.
“We saw about 25 individuals and I was even able to get footage of them feeding on a Sevengill Shark with the drone,” Moore said. “These whales are typically smaller in size than the Bigg’s or transient killer whale type and they had several very young calves with them.”
“All of a sudden one of them brought it up, brought up the whole shark,” Katlyn Taylor, a marine biologist who was on the boat said. “And it was still alive, it was squirming around.”
“Rarely seen offshore-type killer whales pass around a large sevengill shark, likely teaching their very young calves how to hunt sharks,” Monterey Bay Whale Watch wrote on its Facebook page.
“They’re kinda tricky animals to study,” Taylor says. “They hold their breath a long time, they swim really fast, they travel way offshore. That’s part of the fun though, you never know what’s going to happen.”
The offshore killer whales appear in the bay around once a year. Where they go for the rest of the time remains a mystery, although they have appeared as far as away as Alaska.
Offshore killer whales were first identified in 1988. Scientists established they eat shark after bits were found inside dead whales which washed up to the shore. The whales’ teeth are often worn down from chewing through the thick skin of sharks.