KILLER WHALES HUNTING NEAR THE CHANNEL ISLANDS
Killer Whales, or Orcas, are the world’s largest dolphins. Members of the suborder Odontoceti, the toothed whales, Killer Whales are predatory and hunt a wide variety of prey throughout their vast range. Although found in every ocean in the world, Killer Whales are more numerous in the cooler waters of higher latitudes. Highly gregarious, Killer Whales live and hunt in groups called pods. Resident pods, often found in the Northeast Pacific, prey primarily upon fish, while transient pods specialize in marine mammals.
Transient Killer Whale pods can be seen from time to time in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of Southern California. In the following sequence of photos, a pod of Killer Whales ambushes an unsuspecting California Sea Lion, and disables it before killing it. To avoid injury, Killer Whales often disable their prey by head-butting it, slapping it with their tails, or breaching and landing on it.