Check out this great footage of a sneaky seal escaping hunting killer whales.
This is a pretty cool video taken by Nick Templeman who runs whale watching excursions on Campbell River in British Columbia, Canada. During a whale watching trip they saw killer whales hunting – which is a pretty amazing sight in itself. But then they noticed a seal sneakily hiding from the killer whales on the back of their boat! They managed to get some great underwater footage of the killer whales searching around the boat, and of the seal hiding from them. That’s a pretty smart move on the seals part!
These are likely to be Bigg’s killer whales (thanks to our friends at the Oceans Institute for the insight!). Bigg’s killer whales are also known as “transient” killer whales. A study by Morin et al in 2010 used genetic analysis to show that mammal-hunting killer whales diverged from other killer whale ecotypes 700,000 years ago and suggested that they be considered a separate species, which many refer to a the Bigg’s killer whale. In British Columbia, Bigg’s killer whales are known to eat seals, sea lions, porpoise, dolphins and even minke and grey whales and this Campbell River region seems to be a hotspot for such activity.
The distinction of whether or not these are separate species is important in terms of conservation. There are 4 populations in the North Pacific which are genetically and ecologically distinct:
- Bigg’s (transient) killer whales: mammal hunters often off the coast of BC and considered to be a threatened population
- Northern Resident killer whales: inshore fish eating whales found in northern BC and SE Alaska that are considered to be a threatened population
- Southern Resident killer whales: inshore fish eating whales found in southern BC and Washington State that are considered to be an endangered population
- Offshore killer whales: fish-eaters found along the continental shelf from the Aleutian Islands to California that are considered to be a threatened population
Read more about Bigg’s killer whales here.