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Killer whales are hunting in Monterey Bay!

On Saturday, a whale-watching boat encountered killer whales on the hunt in Monterey Bay, a rare sight. Then, researchers witnessed an even MORE rare sight – the orcas catching and devouring a dolphin! The Santa Cruz Sentinel says:

“I have only seen them catch a dolphin once in 25 years,” said Nancy Black, a marine biologist with Monterey Bay Whale Watch and longtime killer whale researcher. “So it’s really rare to be there at the right time.”

The very deep, underwater canyons of Monterey Bay allow the occasionally visiting killer whales to stalk their prey from underneath, including the gray whales that are now migrating through the bay.

Black said once the hunt started, it lasted about 15 minutes. The long-beaked common dolphin was isolated from other dolphins and pursued, the whales giving chase until they could make their move from below.

“The killer whales were leaping out of the water, chasing like torpedoes,” Black said.

The mother whale — possibly pregnant, Black said — struck the dolphin with its head from below, the force so great it pitched the dolphin high into the air.

The orca, known as CA138, breached and crashed into the water, flipping the dolphin into the sky! The stunned prey was soon subdued and eaten. CA138 and her pod were offshore from southern Santa Cruz County. She was with two offspring, born in 2007 and 2010, which were flipping at birds with their tails, practicing another technique that orcas use to stun prey. Two male killer whales were also near, one of which was adopted by CA138 15 years ago, after his mother died.

-Bill at

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