Northwest News

The Orcas vs. the Sea Lions — it's the Pacific Northwest's version of 'West Side Story'

Killer whales try to hunt down a sea lion, until he’s rescued by friends

A pod of Bigg's killer whales try to hunt down a Steller sea lion off Speiden Island in northwest Washington, until a group of sea lions comes to its rescue.
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A pod of Bigg's killer whales try to hunt down a Steller sea lion off Speiden Island in northwest Washington, until a group of sea lions comes to its rescue.

Never count out the smaller guy, especially when he's got a group of loyal and brave friends to back him up.

A San Juan Island whale-watching tour from Friday Harbor's Western Price Whale Watching & Wildlife Tours recently got a dramatic show when a family of killer whales started hunting a sea lion.

After several minutes of ramming the undersized prey, "something interesting happened," the lead-in to a video posted Tuesday on the company's YouTube page said.

"While we were out doing some work with the new Western Explorer II, we decided to have a look at the T2Cs family group of Bigg's Killer whales that were nearby," information posted with YouTube video read. "As we arrived, a hunt on a Steller sea lion began.

"Shortly after, something interesting happened. Twenty-plus Steller sea lions came to the hunted one's defense. They grouped up together watching for the killer whales, and when they were close enough to the singled out one, that animal made a break for it swimming at high speed until he got into the raft of sea lions.

"It was fascinating to watch. The orcas swam around the scene for a little while, before turning and heading away from the scene."

Cue the snapping walk from "West Side Story" — only this is a story made only in the Pacific Northwest.

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