The T65As and T65Bs take down a Steller Sea Lion – 1/5/15

So there we were, getting a look at BCYuk2014#3 “Windy” (!!!!!) for the first time this year when all of a sudden, like thieves in night, the T65As and T65Bs came speeding (make that racing! high speed porpoising!) from the distance straight toward Boiling Reef and the Steller Sea Lions that haul out there.

Mom and kids T65a4 t65a3 t65a t65a5
Mom and her kids: T65A4, T65A3, T65A, and T65A5

T65A2 and T65B were over half a mile in the lead and got to the unsuspecting raft of sea lions first, and the rest of the whales were porpoising out of the water at high speed, apparently swimming as fast as they could to catch up with T65A2 and 65B and join in their hunt.

T65A t65b t65a2
T65A, T65B, and T65A2

They successfully managed to separate a sea lion and proceeded to take turns ramming it and fatiguing it to the point where after 45 mins the sea lion bobbed at the surface one last time and all the whales disappeared underwater.

T65B circling sea lion
T65B circling the sea lion
T65A2 dellivering possible final blow
T65A2 delivering possible final blow

They milled around, presumably consuming their kill, for over an hour. The gulls moved in, along with hundreds of Bonaparte’s Gulls which made for this overwhelming scene of whales breaching and tail slapping with hundreds of birds swirling and dipping around.

T65A2 breach after kill
T65A2 breaching after the kill

The exquisite intention of the whales’ actions were a privilege to witness, and also a horror. It was chilling to see that sea lion fight for its life but fascinating to watch the calculated way the whales handled it. T65A, T65A2, and T65B did most of the work, taking turns rushing the sea lion, while the younger animals waited on the sidelines. The younger whales almost seemed restless at times, vocalizing at the surface and rolling over each other and at times circling in close to the sea lion with the adults.

I’ve never seen a kill on a large mammal take place from start to finish. It was a privilege. Also, yet more evidence that you do NOT mess with the T65As!



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