CHUBUT — Through cunning techniques used in hunting seals and smaller whales, killer whales reveal they are one of the most intelligent of sea mammals, explains Argentine daily Clarin.
Every season killer whales return to the Valdés peninsula in Chubut, southern Argentina, for their seal hunting ritual. Here they display their ingenuity using the particular technique of momentarily beaching themselves to catch a seal and drag it out to sea.
Observers consider it one of the boldest and most intelligent hunting methods among animals. These rites include teaching their young to do the same, and passing the technique to future generations, which is crucial to their collective survival.
The whales carried out four attacks in recent days, two of them successful. These provided food for two whale pods of four that had arrived to Punta Norte. One pod included a female that local scientists have named Llem, as well as her baby born last year, and two others, Pao and Schekei.
The "little'un" was seen mixing with its elders and learning to hunt. More attacks are expected in coming days as sea lions have given birth to large numbers of calves.
Clarín observed the whales' method of shifting into the shallow part of the water and waiting for a seal to take a dip. Scientists have observed the technique used both in Punta Norte and in Caleta Valdés nearby.
Killer whales' superior intelligence is also shown in their "systematic" method of hunting the Southern Right Whale, of which they are one of the main predators. Knowing the Right Whales' only defense is to sink into the depths, killer whales force them to swim into shallow waters, where they attack. Killer whales usually eat every bit of the 40 tons of whale meat when one is killed.
The orcas are expected back for more feeding off the coast of Chubut province in September.
All photos: Francois Gohier/Vwpics/ZUMA