To follow the stunning drone footage of killer whales off Norway, let’s turn to the National Geographic photo blog Proof, which in September published some incredible photos of Norwegian killer whales feeding on herring. Not only are the photos, by Paul Nicklen, beautiful. But they also show yet another highly intelligent, cooperative killer whale hunting behavior:
The orcas are working together, performing a highly coordinated exercise in the herding of fish–huge schools of herring, larger than any other I have ever seen, compacted together into a tight ball. The immense ball of fish: a mere 5 feet under the ocean’s surface, buckles and sways, trying to escape, but the orcas swim around the ball making it tighter and tighter. In this sophisticated team effort every orca plays a role and every member of the pod gets their turn to feed. Young calves flank their mother’s side and mimic every move as they hone their herring-herding skills. We can hear the constant high-pitch sound of their echolocation calls all around us.
So effective, in fact, that some humpbacks show up to take advantage of the feast that is created.
Read all about it. And here’s a sample of the photos: