A male orca recently punted a harbor seal approximately 80 feet into the air with its tail, according to a film crew who recorded the entire event in waters off of Victoria, British Columbia.
Orcas, also known as killer whales, are known to stun seals with their tails, but such a forceful punt is rare.
The film crew from Roll.Focus.Productions shot the footage while working on a promotional video for Eagle Wing Whale Watching Tours.
The group of orcas shown in the video is known as the T69s. Researchers, such as those from the Center for Whale Research in Washington State, do indeed make reference to the T69s, as well as other similarly named orca groups.
The strong male who punted the seal is named “T69C,” and was born in 1995. According to NOAA, orcas can live to be around 50–80 years old, so T696 is still very much in its prime.
Cetacean researcher Chris Parsons explained the seal tossing behavior to the Earth Touch News Network: “They don’t often eat the seals (after hitting them). But when they hit Dall’s porpoises, they do it to eviscerate them. They hit them so hard that their entrails pop out, which they leave behind after eating the muscle and blubber.”
It is hard to imagine that the poor seal shown in the video survived the ordeal. Orcas do feast on such animals, along with fish, squid, sea lions, penguins, dolphins, porpoises, and even large whales, like the blue whale.
Technically, killer whales are not whales at all. They are instead members of the Delphinidae (dolphin) family.
Like dolphins, orcas often engage in cooperative hunting, where several animals within the pod participate. In this case, however, T69C appears to have acted on its own.
With so many videos like this going viral, there is an incentive for filmmakers to get very close to wildlife, hoping for the perfect shot. The good news here is that the crew reports that they “filmed from a safe distance under the guidance of Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries & Oceans.”