Whale Watchers Film Pack Of Orcas Killing And Devouring Humpback Calf

by : Lucy Connolly on : 13 Oct 2019 12:05
Whale Watchers Film Pack Of Orcas Killing And Devouring Humpback CalfWhale Watchers Film Pack Of Orcas Killing And Devouring Humpback CalfOut of the Blue Adventures/Facebook

Whale watchers in New South Wales recently witnessed a young humpback whale being devoured by a pod of killer whales, otherwise known as orcas.

Those filming the incident said they were watching a mother humpback whale, a male, and their calf when a pod of orcas suddenly emerged and separated the calf from its parents.

The attack happened off the coast of Ballina at the time when the local whale-watching charter was running its Saturday morning tour this weekend (October 12).


You can watch the moment the orcas attacked the calf below:

Skipper Dean Fuchs told ABC News around 30 orcas emerged from the waters, rendering the humpback whales effectively powerless.

After separating the calf from the adult humpbacks, the orcas drowned the animal before devouring it. Fuchs said the killer whales then surrounded their tour boat for more than two hours, seemingly celebrating their kill by bringing parts of the dead calf over to the boat.


The skipper described the incident as one of the most amazing sights he had ever seen while out on the ocean, saying it was a ‘once in a lifetime experience’.

He went on to say:

It’s been one of the things I have wanted to see my whole life and to finally get to see that was pretty special.

Killer whales kill baby whaleKiller whales kill baby whaleOut of the Blue Adventures/Facebook

Fuchs said that despite the people on board his tour boat being in awe of what they were seeing, he wasn’t sure if they appreciated its rarity. ‘I was scrambling around trying to get my camera,’ he added.

Julie Cummings, a tourist who witnessed the attack, said the entire thing was ‘amazing’ – despite it being ‘so sad’. She described the last sighting of the baby as the animal being on its back with blood around its mouth. ‘Then we knew that the orcas had succeeded in their hunt,’ she explained.

The vice-president of the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia, Jules Farrell, said that while the kill was ‘classic’ orca behaviour, their devouring of the entire calf was unusual.

Orcas kill baby humpback whaleOrcas kill baby humpback whaleOut of the Blue Adventures/Facebook

The orca’s usual practice, according to Farrell, is to simply eat the tongue and the cheeks as a ‘delicacy,’ leaving the rest of the body in the ocean.

The vice-president also said it was highly unusual for humans to witness such an attack, due to the vast distances travelled by the orcas and the speeds at which they travel. ‘For a whale-watching cruise to see this is really incredible,’ she added.

Witnesses on the boat said that, despite the calf’s mother and the male humpback attempting to save the animal, there were just too many orcas for them to succeed and unfortunately it died.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Animals, Facebook, Life, Nature, Viral, whales


ABC News and 1 other
  1. ABC News

    Whale watchers witness rarely seen spectacle as orcas devour juvenile humpback off NSW north coast

  2. Out of the Blue Adventures/Facebook

    Out of the Blue Adventures