Researchers have documented orcas targeting the world’s largest animal, the blue whale, for the first time.
A paper published in Marine Mammal Science highlighted several instances where a female-led pod of orcas attacked, killed and ate the tongues of adult and calf blue whales.
The distinct events occurred off Bremer Bay in Western Australia. The first and second attacks were in 2019, and the third was documented in 2021. One of the blue whale victims appeared to be a healthy adult. The first attack was on an adult blue whale measuring between 18 and 22 meters (59 and 72 feet) long, and it was set upon by at least 12 orcas, including eight adult females and one adult male, with younger orcas observing.
In a brutal end to the attack, three female orcas lined up and pushed it underwater, while two others attacked its head, with one swimming inside its mouth and starting to eat parts of its tongue.
The researchers stated in their paper:
“Here we provide the first documentation of killer whales killing and eating blue whales: two individuals killed, 16 days apart in 2019, and a third in 2021…Notably, the first whale taken appeared to be a healthy adult.”
Check out the paper here.