Photographer captures orcas punting a porpoise

Ocean Ecoventures
Photographer Simon Pidcock captures orcas punting a porpoise into the air.

Simon Pidcock was on one of his whale-watching guided tours when he chanced upon a family of orcas punting a porpoise into the air.

“They were actually hunting two harbour porpoises at the same time and the mother orca managed to take the first one fairly quickly but her boy was having some trouble,” he says.

“She came in and did the work and got both the porpoise and they spent some time prey sharing afterwards.”

And it was in that moment after taking a group on a private charter with Ocean Ecoventures off Sangster Island that Pidcock managed to capture the breathtaking hunting action which happened in a matter of seconds.

The photo taken in August 2023 is more than a beautiful display of killer whales in their natural habitat.

Sea View Marine Sciences zoologist Anna Hall says what’s happening in the image that was captured was a predation event where the transient killer whales were demonstrating their incredible power.

“They’re stealth hunters. When they lock in on that prey, they will pursue them and try to drown them,” Hall says.

“Sometimes they will bite their tails and pull them under the water and batter them until they die.”

Porpoises are very similar in some regards to deer or rabbits in that those animals are also prey species.

Hall says they have a function which is evolved within their body that when they are pursued they will go in to what is called a “capture myophathy.”

“There’s so much adrenaline going through their body,” she says, describing how their body is working so hard that even if a killer whale were to let them swim away it will very likely die anyway.

This breathtaking photo showcasing both nature’s beauty and brutality is one of Pidcock’s favourites and he says there’s more where that came from.

“There’s many hard drives full of images so a photo book is definitely in the works,” Pidcock said.

RELATED: Video captures transient killer whales hunting porpoise off Vancouver Island

Harry Corro

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!