Killer Whales Bully Lone Blue Whale in Rare Video

This incredible footage shows a rare interaction between a blue whale and killer whales—where it appears a gang of orcas attacks the larger cetacean.

The video was filmed off the coast of off Monterey, Calif., by Sea Wolf II out of Monterey Bay Whale Watch. It's rare to see the large mammals in the deep California waters in March. Blue whales typically arrive in Southern California in late spring or early summer.

In the footage, six transient killer whales, or orcas, appear to harass the blue whale and take a bite out of its tail fin or fluke. The blue whale can be seen reacting to the apparent ambush by violently lifting and slapping its tail fin, which has a bloody gash.

The second tail seen in the video could be of an attacking orca. Not long after the encounter the blue whale fled and was not pursued by the orcas, according to Monterey Bay Whale Watch.

So-called transient killer whales have been known to attack smaller creatures, such as the grey whale, especially traveling mothers and calves. Considering the sheer size of a blue whale at 100 feet (30 m) in length and weighing around 170 tons, this interaction was not an even match-up. 

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Nina Sen
Nina Sen is a frequent contributor to Live Science’s Life’s Little Mysteries series: an exploration and explanation of our world’s phenomena, both natural and man-made. She also writes astronomy photo stories for Live Science's sister site