Study: Hunting Orcas Go Into "Stealth Mode"
Orca's didn't earn that "killer" moniker by accident. The predatory species is considered one of the ocean's most skillful hunters, outwitting their prey with a combination of speed, cunning, and teamwork. But as if that wasn't enough to send shivers down a sea lion's spine, biologists recently discovered a new trick in orcas' hunting playbook -- stealth mode.
A team of researchers attached microphones and trackers to 13 killers whales to better understand their group hunting behavior. Interestingly, they discovered that the animals aren't as reliant upon sight to find prey as was once thought, still able to seek out prey under cover of darkness.
The findings revealed that when hunting mammals at night, orca pods go silent, zeroing in on their unsuspecting meals with their ears alone. Afterwards, however, they do have a chat about it..
Here's LiveScience with the details:
In one gory recording from a juvenile orca, the team heard the distant roars of harbor seals gradually getting closer, until three very loud roars burst out, and then about 30 seconds later "the sounds of ramming and bones crushing and flesh ripping and no more roars after that," Study co-author Volter Deecke said.
Only after the slaughter do the killers in the pack vocalize to each other. Deecke suspects that's because the process of dismembering the large animals is a precise dance necessitating communication, with one whale holding the prey while another rips it apart.