A whaling watching tour boat out of Friday Harbor captured amazing footage Tuesday of a mother orca teaching her two calves how to hunt – much to the dismay of the sea lion that was their target.
In the video, the adult female is seen leaping out of the water, with her calves trailing behind and trying to do the same, as they chase down their prey.
“They are really trying hard to tire out, injure, even drown the sea lion before they go in for the final kill shot,” said Meghan Moore, research biologist with the Vancouver Aquarium, in an interview with CTV News.
The whales are transient Biggs killer whales, which are known for their indiscriminate diet – sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, even other whales. By contrast, the endangered southern resident orcas seen often around the San Juans feed almost exclusively on salmon, primarily Chinook.
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The lesson ended well for the prey – after about 20 minutes of the chase, the sea lion escaped. But it was the kind of rare show whales watchers dream about.
“I don’t know if you could watch that and not have your breath completely taken away,” said Traci Walter, a naturalist with Western Prince Whale Watching who shot the video.