National Geographic experts observe that Orcas slap, kill, but don’t eat prey

When Jorge Cervera Hauser went diving with friends in the Sea of Cortez in Baja, California, he was on a mission: to find orcas. Getting in the water with orcas is incredibly rare, Hauser says, and witnessing what they were about to witness, even rarer.

“I’ve been obsessed with orcas for more than seven years now,” says Hauser, CEO of the travel company Pelagic Fleet, “and I always seem to miss them.”

About an hour into the swim, the team spotted a pod of black-and-white whales. (Related: “Exclusive: Mysterious Orcas Filmed Underwater for the First Time”)

“In total, there were around six orcas spread out in groups of two or three. Every time we would jump into the water they would only do a flyby, quickly checking us out,” Hauser recalls. “But around our tenth jump, something changed.”

The orcas noticed a stingray that had come to the surface, possibly to give birth, Hauser says. Instead of zooming by the divers, the orcas began playing with the stingray: circling it, swatting it, and grabbing it to pull it further into the water. (Related: “First Case of Foster Infanticide Observed”)

Hauser says the ray was immediately stunned by the first slap, and was too weak and disoriented to get away from the whales. This behavior went on for about an hour and a half, until the whales killed the ray.

The divers suspected that after smacking around the ray, the whales would eat their prey. But instead, the orcas let the dead animal sink to the bottom of the ocean.

Source: National Geographic

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