Dramatic footage shows killer whales breaking through an ice shelf to trap and kill a seal, a rare technique used by just 100 whales


A file photo of killer whales hunting a seal.iStock/Getty Images Plus

  • A new BBC documentary shows a pod of killer whales hunting a seal using a sophisticated technique.

  • They used “wave crushing”, creating a wave to break up an ice shelf and trap the seal on it.

  • The technique is only used by about 100 killer whales worldwide.

Dramatic footage has shown killer whales using a rare hunting technique to trap and kill a seal in the freezing waters surrounding Antarctica.

The video, part of the BBC’s new ‘Frozen Planet II’ documentary airing in the UK on Sunday, shows four killer whales attacking a Weddell seal. The seal had taken refuge on an ice shelf floating on the water.

The killer whales began by swimming side by side, which created a wave that cracked the seal’s large ice shelf into a smaller one, leaving it vulnerable.

A second wave generated by the whales knocked the seal off the ice into the water, where the whales were able to attack it.

Once the seal was in the water, the whales used another hunting technique: blowing bubbles to confuse the seal, which made it easier to capture.

A Weddell seal is seen on a block of ice floating on the water.

A Weddell seal floats among chunks of ice in Antarctica on February 20, 2019.Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

There are only about 100 killer whales on Earth that use this sophisticated coordinated hunting technique, according to the documentary, narrated by naturalist Sir David Attenborough. This is called the “crash of the waves”.

Killer whales are known for their precise targeted attacks. A recent report showed that the animals are able to tear out internal organs from great white sharks, such as their livers, with surgical precision.

An expert previously told Insider that they could do this by using their echolocation to find the fatty organs of their prey.

Killer whales are not put off by hunting animals larger than themselves. Rare footage released earlier this year showed them attacking and killing at least two blue whales, the largest animals on the planet.

Killer whales have been recorded swimming into the mouths of blue whales to gnaw on their rich tongues.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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