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WATCH: Killer Whales Eat Another Whale.

A wildlife photographer captured footage of a bunch of orcas hunting down and killing another whale, then ferociously eating it.

Mike Korostelev was working in the Avachinsky Gulf for the Far East Russian Orca Project when he saw the unusual scene unfolding, (https://www.catersnews.com/stories/animals/27943/) Caters News Agency reported.

"I felt really happy and privileged to see such a rare wildlife moment," he said, according to the news agency. "It was incredible to see the hunt - they're quite rare to see. Usually we see other orcas who feed on fish, but never on a whale."

While the orcas were in a group during the hunt, their minke whale victim was alone at the time of the meal.

Orcas, which are also known as killer whales, are found all around the world, from the northern Pacific Ocean to Antarctica. The nonprofit group (http://us.whales.org/wdc-in-action/facts-about-orcas) Whale and Dolphin Conservation said the marine mammals are part of the toothed whale family, which also includes dolphins, sperm whales, vaquitas and other porpoises.

That's (http://www.ibtimes.com/prehistoric-whales-had-knife-teeth-tear-apart-prey-2584479) opposed to being a baleen whale, the mammals that filter-feed instead of biting down on their prey. The latter group includes humpback whales, blue whales and gray whales, for example.

Both toothed and baleen whales are part of a larger family called cetaceans.

The WDC says killer whales got their name from sailors who had seen them attacking and eating larger whales than themselves, and they appear to be doing something similar in this new footage as well.

Male orcas can grow up to 32 feet long and 22,000 pounds, according to the U.S. (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/whales/killer-whale.html) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration . Meanwhile, a (http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/whales/minke-whale.html) minke whale , which has been identified as the victim in Korostelev's footage, can reach 35 feet long. It can weigh as much as 20,000 pounds.

"I've only seen footage of this kind of hunt once before, again of orcas hunting for a whale," the videographer said. "It was in the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia."

That sea is just on the other side of the Kamchatka Peninsula from the Avachinsky Gulf in eastern Russia, in the northern Pacific Ocean.

The WDC says orcas as a species are not picky eaters. They will consume things as varied as fish, seals, dolphins, sharks, squid and birds. But specific communities of orcas in different places around the globe have more picky diets, feasting on particular creatures within that list.

Orcas are social creatures whose communities are matriarchal, NOAA says, and are identifiable by their black tops, white undersides and white patches on their eyes. Their groups are called "pods."

In the video Korostelev shot, it looks like the orca hunters are in a pod of six when they chase and take down the minke whale, hitting it and then biting down.

Orcas have been seen hunting a minke whale before - BBC Earth's program Frozen Planet included (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPDZZj6By3Y.) footage of killer whales going after one. In that instance, the prey attempts to outrun the orcas for two whole hours before tiring out and being eaten.

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Oct 13, 2017
Words:544
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