Seal Hunter in Training! – 7/8/16

The T137s are always an exciting group to see on the water but the encounter I had with them in the Strait today was definitely something special.

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They seemed to come out of nowhere. The surface betrayed nothing of what was going on beneath until BAM! a seal was launched clear out of the water followed by T137 herself.

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She rammed the seal once more while her three offspring splashed actively close-by and then all four animals disappeared, the seal panting heavily at the surface.

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The next time we saw them T 137D, the youngest member of the family, was slowly circling the seal while T137 and her two older offspring popped up nearby appearing not at all interested in what was going on.

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T137D tried to corral the seal and even tried to roll in it a few times but wasn’t very successful.

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This calf was born in 2012 so has likely weaned by now but has probably not had a large amount of experience hunting, especially not on its own.

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The fact that this was a training hunt set up by the family could not have been any plainer. While T137D continued to try to work on the seal the three other family members stayed close but didn’t get involved. It wasn’t until almost 40 minutes had passed, and the seal had sought safety behind our boat(!), that mama T137 came in, kept on the outside of T137D, and gently guided the young orca in tighter patterns to trap the seal.

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By the time the youngster had got the seal out on it’s own again we had to go so I’m not sure how the hunt ended for either T137D or for the seal but having the opportunity to watch a mother so beautifully lay out a training ground for her youngest calf was a story I won’t ever forget.

-Nicole

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