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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Gustaf Kilander

Orcas attack humpback whales in sea battle off Washington coast

Screenshot / the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA)

Orcas have been filmed attacking two humpback whales off the coast of Washington state.

The altercation was filmed by whale-watching tour crew members in the Salish Sea on the Juan de Fuca Strait, which is close to the border between the US and Canada.

Eagle Wing Tours staff saw around 15 orcas being “unusually active” at the water surface, the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) said in a statement.

A BC Whale Tours captain on a separate boat then saw the humpback whales in their midst. Footage from the incident shows orcas coming out of the water as a whale swims further away.

According to the PWWA, witnesses said the sea battle went on for almost three hours. The whales at times came out of the water making loud noises. The animals then “disappeared into the fog,” the PWWA added.

Luke Rendell of the University of St Andrews told Newsweek that the incident was normal and that the area is “intensely observed”.

Orcas – killer whales – eat almost every kind of whale, including blue whales, the largest animal alive. Killer whales work in groups to defeat larger adversaries.

Rendell told Newsweek that there’s not enough evidence that the orcas are hunting in the footage, they may be harassing the whales for other reasons, but this is usually how feeding occurs.

Mollie Naccarato of Sooke Coastal Explorations said in a statement that “I’m still trying to wrap my head around it because it was absolutely unbelievable”.

“At first the orcas seemed to be chasing the humpbacks, but then when it seemed there was space between them, the humpbacks would go back toward the orcas,” she added.

The PWWA added in a press release that they haven’t spotted a humpback whale who has died because of Orcas in the Salish Sea.

The number of both Orcas and humpback whales is on the rise in the area, meaning such incidents may happen more often.

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