An estimated 70 orcas recently worked together to take down and devour a 50-foot juvenile blue whale off the coast of western Australia — a feat that has only been recorded a handful of times.
The attack took place in Bremer Canyon, a thriving ecosystem where orcas are frequently spotted in the summer months. Multiple pods came together for the organized pursuit, which lasted nearly four hours.
Marine scientist Kristy Brown was aboard a Naturaliste Charters whale watching boat at the time of the attack and witnessed the event along with several others shocked onlookers. She recounted it as “harsh and beautiful” in a company blog post, saying the scene was “astounding, astonishing, a little bit disturbing and truly mind blowing.”
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Brown described the orcas as persistent and thoughtful, and remarked on the fascinating strategy involved: “Over and over the orcas nudged and jostled, pushed and pulled, and the animal kept swimming, near to the surface it stayed, occasionally diving but not deep, and each time it came up for a breath the orcas persisted.”
Eventually, the orcas forced the whale into shallow waters which made it impossible for the young cetacean to escape. Onlookers knew it was over as blood rose to the surface and orcas were seen dividing up carcass beneath the waves.
“We saw some blubber, only one hunk of flesh, and it was gone.” It was a mix of emotions aboard the boat; “Some patrons were in tears, some stunned silence, some excited and intrigued.”
Watch clips from the attack below: