A film crew working off the coast of Victoria, British Columbia, has captured remarkable footage of a transient killer whale using its tail to launch a Pacific harbor seal some 80 feet (20 meters) into the air.
The footage was captured by Mike Walker, owner of Roll.Focus.Productions, who was filming a promotional video for a whale-watching company. In the video, a transient killer whale—dubbed T69C—can be seen launching a harbor seal some 80 feet into the air with a flick of its giant tail.
The seal toss happens at the 0:28 mark. (Credit: Roll.Focus.Productions/YouTube)
Transient killer whales, also known as Bigg’s killer whales, feed almost exclusively on marine mammals. Behavior like this is not without precedent; last year, a killer whale was filmed throwing a sea lion 20 feet into the air. The Earth Touch News Network quotes cetacean researcher Dr. Chris Parsons as saying that the behavior is likely a bit of practice:
They don’t often eat the seals [after hitting them]. But when they hit Dall’s porpoises, they do it to eviscerate them. They hit them so hard that their entrails pop out, which they leave behind after eating the muscle and blubber.
Walker says his team does a ton of whale watching, but witnessing an event like this is quite rare.
“Brett Soberg—owner of Eagle Wing—mentioned to us that it’s only the fourth time he’s seen an orca do that in about 20 years,” he told the Huffington Post. “It was spectacular. You can hear me yelling ‘Yes!’ over and over in the video.”