Killer whale attack caught on tape
April 30, 1998
Web posted at: 3:36 p.m. EDT (1936 GMT)
In this story:
OFF BAJA CALIFORNIA (CNN) -- In marine parks, killer whales
seem passive, fascinating us by performing the tricks they've
been trained to do. But in the ocean, it becomes obvious how
they got their name. On April 11, whale-watchers off
Mexico's Baja California coast got a memorable look at an
attack considered natural behavior.
A group of orcas, as killer whales also are also known,
broke off their play near the excursion boat "Sea Lion" to
chase something -- a rare Bryde's (pronounced BREW-dus)
As passengers watched and tour operator Neil Folsom
videotaped, the orcas surrounded and tormented the visitor,
taking bites out of their larger prey over a 10-minute
During the chase, the Bryde's whale swam beneath the bow of the tour boat in a failed attempt to shake off the attackers. Two white spots on the victim's back mark chunks of missing flesh.
The orcas then struck yet again and the Bryde's whale
disappeared, its fate unknown.
When the attack ended, the predators resumed their play as
birds dove into the water to feed on the big whale's
Biologists consider such attacks to be normal behavior for
orcas, whose normal diet includes small dolphins, seals, and
It is presumed they will attack a larger whale -- in cases
like this one -- if the orcas are in large groups. But such
attacks are rarely observed and even more rarely captured on
Bryde's whales, which reach a maximum size of 47 feet (14
meters) and 22 tons, are named after a Norwegian businessman
who made it his life's work to kill them.
Extensive hunting lasted through the 1960s and there are
probably fewer than 100,000 Bryde's whales in the world.
However, estimates vary widely and the Bryde's whale is not
They live in warmer waters and along coastlines. In the
United States, they are rarely seen north of Virginia or
Correspondent Sharon Collins contributed to this report.