‘It’s the brutal reality of nature’: Killer whales devour grey whale in Puget Sound


It’s survival of the fittest.

That’s what played out between a group of transient orcas and a single grey whale.

“It only took a couple seconds,” says Bart Rulon, who captured the photos of the feast.

“I could see some of the intact skin of the grey whale and I was like, ‘Wow that’s a grey whale!'”

The crew of Puget Sound Express were on a whale watching tour Saturday when they spotted a mother orca with her three sons off the coast of Whidbey Island.

“We did see some blood bubbling out and air coming out with it,” says the photographer and naturalist.

The sight of blood signaled a win for the killer whales.

A sight that is so rare, even most experts have never seen it.

“Eating on a grey whale? For myself, never,” says Jim Zakreski, captain and marine biologist at B.C. Whale Tours.

“I’ve never seen that in person.”

Transient whales usually hunt harbour seals, sea lions or smaller mammals.

“Even a skinny whale is a formidable obstacle,” says Zakreski.

“There’s so much food for them that’s easier than a whale to catch. I think opportunity knocked.”

According to Zakreski, remnants of a whale kill were found in the same area last year.

And even more may soon suffer the same fate.

This year, an unusual number of grey whales on their way north to feast on arctic krill, are washing up dead, mostly from starvation.

“It is certainly possible we may have more situations like this where a transient pod may take advantage of a grey whale that’s not doing very good,” says Rulon.

“It’s the brutal reality of nature. They are killer whales after all.”

With increasing numbers of malnourished grey whales, we may be seeing more similar photos as nature runs its course.

Aaron GuillenAaron Guillen

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