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Boaters witness ‘incredible’ moment 17 predators hunt creature in rare encounter

After receiving a report of three to four orcas in Monterey Bay, a boat of tourists headed to get a glimpse of the creatures. The spectators ended up with a front row seat to something much more “incredible.”

A group of approximately 17 killer whales, from various matrilines, hunted a minke whale, according to a Dec. 10 Facebook post from Monterey Bay Whale Watch.

It’s only the fifth time a minke predation by orcas has been spotted in Monterey Bay in nearly 40 years, the tour agency said. The last documented attack was in 2012.

An orca named Emma was “leading the charge,” agency experts said in the post. “Eventually all the different groups came together!”

Emma, seen in the middle, led the charge for the hunt, witnesses said.
Emma, seen in the middle, led the charge for the hunt, witnesses said.

Photos show the killer whales swimming in the bay with the minke whale’s carcass.

The orcas swam around the minke whale carcass, a photo shows.
The orcas swam around the minke whale carcass, a photo shows.

“Once the whales were done feeding on the carcass, they did a little bit of socializing,” the agency said in another Facebook post. “One of the youngest whales breached a few times, and CA163 ‘Liner’ and CA137 ‘Hercules’ (both large males) did some kelping!”

One of the youngest whales was spotted breaching, the agency said.
One of the youngest whales was spotted breaching, the agency said.
After feeding, the orcas did some “socializing,” the tour agency said.
After feeding, the orcas did some “socializing,” the tour agency said.
Some of the killer whales were seen with kelp on their backs, witnesses said.
Some of the killer whales were seen with kelp on their backs, witnesses said.

Minke whales are the smallest type of baleen whales, according to Monterey Bay Whale Watch experts. The species frequents the bay year-round, and they are usually spotted close to shore near “rocky bottom regions.”

Killer whales — apex predators — often hunt using a coordinated strategy, working as a team to catch and kill their prey, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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