The natural world can be quite unforgiving, with animals killing or being killed for survival and food, and there always being a “bigger fish” (though all would fall eventually to parasites and decomposers). So just off the cause of Vancouver Island this Tuesday August 23, when a whale watching group saw the pod of orcas – killer whales, that is – moving to hunt down a seal in their midst, they could not in good conscience interrupt nature at work.
At least that was the reality of it, until the would-be prey decided to take matters into its own flippers and exploit the presence of the whale watchers’ boat. In essence, the little critter just saved itself in a remarkable way, and it was all on video.
CBC reports that the incident took place during a whale watching tour led by Nick Templeman of Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions in British Columbia, Canada. He had just taken a group of tourists on a whale watching trip to a spot off Vancouver Island frequented by orca, and has been taking videos of the pod of whales they found at the site for about half an hour, when he noticed the animals starting to move aggressively.
Templeman knew that the killer whales have found food, and he was able to identify it immediately as a seal, favored eating by orcas. As he tells CBC, "This seal was tossed around a few times and taken under quite a bit before seeking refuge among the boats in the area,” said boats being the gathering of whale watchers around them.
To interrupt the orca’s hunt would have been seen as damaging to the natural process, so the group did nothing but observed. Then the beleaguered animal saw a ray of hope. Says Templeman, “Once he got a look at the boat, he made a straight beeline for us.”
Video footage was gotten by the group of the frightened yet plucky seal scrambling around the outboard motors of the CRWBE tour boat, until finally making it on board. Also caught on camera were several orcas briefly surfacing next to the vessel; apparently they had been in pursuit of the little seal and were puzzled as to where it had suddenly gone.
The Campbell River tour group was treated to the sight of the orcas circling their boat in search of the food that got away. As for the seal, it tried to get back into the water only to jump right back after a few seconds to avoid the killer whales. Templeman noted that the pod they have been observing was made up of three to four family groups, explaining the extreme nature of the hunt.
Not that it mattered. After 30 minutes the orcas gave up and swam away. The seal followed suit a few minutes later.
Photo Credit to www.cnn.com