Shawn Heinrichs has posted a great video about the encounter, and his excursion beneath the surface. Ballsy, and worth it.
About the video:
15 miles off the coast of Sri Lanka, a pod of Orcas trap a family of Sperm Whales. The action intensifies as the Orcas slam into the Sperm Whales, working as a unit to try and separate an individual and take down their prey.
Our story takes place on an epic expedition to Sri Lanka where our team spent 9 days at sea in search of Blue Whales. Accompanying me was my expedition partner Paul Hilton, my brother Brett, and close friends Douglas Seifert, Phil Sokol and Michael Umbscheiden. Together we battled rough seas, burning sun, cramped boat conditions and long days searching endless seas. Though not so successful with Blue Whales, what we did achieve was beyond anything any of us could have imagined, as we documented a world first underwater! This is our story!
Orcas are fascinating. But they are consummate killers, and if you are a species they will eat they are fearsome.
This video was shot off the coast of Sri Lanka, by Brett Heinrichs (just more evidence that orcas are everywhere):
How do sperm whales defend themselves against smaller, faster orcas? Do they rely on bulk (in which case the calves are a target), or can they do damage to the orcas?
Here’s an account, compiled from Heinrichs comments on the YouTube page:
April 19, 2013, Five to Six Orcas (Killer Whales) attack a pod of six Sperm whales of the coast of Sri Lanka. At the end of the video, we jump in the water and captured the first underwater footage of Orcas attacking Sperm whales.
It was truly amazing. I have been swimming with a lot of great creatures in the ocean (blue whales, tiger sharks, whale sharks, manta rays…), but this tops it all.
Alternatively, the Orcas may have been attacking the 3 sides of the pod we were not on, driving the sperm whales into us. At times we were 3 to 5 feet from the Sperm whales. Visibility was good, but not great. While initially we feared aggression from the Orcas, at no time did the Orcas show aggression towards us.
I can tell you that we were very hesitant to get in the water with no precedent for how the Orcas might behave in this attack scenario. Upon entry into the water, they came to us and checked us out then ignored us and resumed their attack. The generally avoided us. The Sperm whales appeared to pick up on this and came closer to us for safety.
I believe the Orcas killed the youngest calf. We saw 6 Sperm whales upon arrival and 5 eventually left the scene. At one point we saw the youngest calf separated from the pod and being hammered by Orcas. The underwater video and images are a first ever and being distributed through other media channels. Not sure how long that process will take.
Have to give the guy credit for getting in the water without knowing how he would be received. The underwater footage will be very interesting to see.