The Orcinus Orca, more commonly referred to as an Orca or Killer Whale is one of the most majestic creatures to dwell within our oceans. With that majesty however, there is also the makings of one of the most feared predators in the water. Killer Whales are thought to have evolved from carnivorous land animals around 60 million years ago. Contradictory to what the name implies, Orcas are actually part of the Dolphin family. They are extremely intelligent predators. After moving to the sea, Orcas evolved over time to develop complex hunting patterns and community dynamics. These animals are highly social creatures, and hunting patterns and vocal behaviors that are specific to individual groups of Orcas are thought to be passed down to each successive generation. These behaviors have been anthropomorphically described by scientists a “culture”. When it comes to hunting though, there are few animals that have as much experience or savvy. Killer Whale hunting tactics are simple, but highly effective for catching their desired prey. They are an apex predator, so they really have no other animals to worry about in the ocean. Check out these fascinating Killer Whale hunting tactics and see for yourself how intelligent these beautiful creatures are.
This is the Orcinus Orca, also known as the Killer Whale, Orca, Black Fish or Sea Panda. These animals can grow up to 10 tons and are an apex predator of our oceans. This means they have no known predators that actively prey on them. They are highly social animals and have extremely evolved hunting tactics.
One of an Orca’s main sources of food, seals, have learned that to get away from Orcas you need to get out of the water. So many seals have learned to climb atop ice floes and simply avoid the Orcas all together. Over time though, Orcas came up with an ingenious way of dealing with this tough to get meal. Orcas will swim in a tight formation towards the ice floe. At the last second, they will dive down below the water and kick up their tails creating a wave. The subsequent wave will wash over the ice floe, carrying the seal into the water with it. This is some high level thinking.
For an Orca, swimming after a single fish is not worth the time or the energy. These amazing animals have come up with a way to work together that allows them to mass a group of fish together. They swim around a group of fish while releasing air bubbles and flashing the white side of their bellies. This causes the fish to group together into a giant sphere near the surface. The Killer Whales then smack their tails into the group of fish, stunning or killing them. This makes for an easy meal.
Sometimes when killing other Whales (yes, they do that) Orcas will simply race down the whale and kill it. There is a method used by some Killer Whales however, that involves literally drowning another whale. Orcas will repeatedly breach over another whale and cover its blowhole and push it down below the water so it cannot take a breath. Eventually the whale will succumb to not having enough air. This tactic has been used on many different types of whales.
The intelligence of the Orca is shown off in this video. This Orca spit out a dead fish, actually trying to bait a bird into going after the fish. Incredibly it actually worked! Killer Whales are excellent at solving problems that are presented to them. Their advanced family dynamics and vocal behaviors is considered by many scientists to be equivalent to the evolution of human culture.
Seals generally think themselves safe on shore. They will tend to let their guard down then they hit land. This is when the Orca will strike. The Killer Whale will breach the water and shoot itself towards the shore and grab the seal before it can leave the water. The Orca will then scoot itself backwards toward deeper water with the seal still clenched in its jaws.
Great White Sharks are an absolutely formidable predator in their own right. They do however have one natural predator. You guessed it, the Orca. While getting at these sharks is not easy, Orcas have developed an ingenious method to immobilize them. They will push the sharks up to the surface with their tails, and then slap them down onto the shark’s head. This will disorient the sharks. The whales will then flip the sharks over ventral side up. This causes the shark to go into a state called tonic immobility. It is easy pickings for the whale after that.
This is one seriously intelligent animal. Killer Whales exhibit a higher level of thinking when it comes to hunting than pretty much any other animal I have ever seen. Having no natural predators means these whales are able to cruise the ocean with complete abandon searching for their next meal. These are some seriously awesome animals!