Navigation Links
NOAA scientists find killer whales in Antarctic waters prefer weddell seals over other prey
Date:3/30/2011

NOAA's Fisheries Service scientists studying the cooperative hunting behavior of killer whales in Antarctic waters observed the animals favoring one type of seal over all other available food sources, according to a study published in the journal Marine Mammal Science.

Researchers Robert Pitman and John Durban from NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif., observed killer whales hunting in ice floes, off the western Antarctic Peninsula during January of 2009. While documenting the whales' behavior of deliberately creating waves to wash seals off ice floes, the researchers noticed Weddell seals as their primary target, despite the availability of other prey species, particularly the more abundant crabeater seals.

"These killer whales would identify and then attack Weddell seals almost exclusively, even though they made up only about 15 percent of the available seal population," said Pitman.

Killer whales creating waves to wash seals off ice floes in Antarctica had previously been observed only a handful of times. The whales, sometimes as many as seven abreast, charge the ice floe creating a wave that either washes the seal off the ice or breaks the ice into smaller pieces and more vulnerable to another attack. A previous study involving the authors suggested that this very distinctive killer whale population, which they refer to as "pack ice killer whales," is a separate species.

Once the seal was washed off the ice, the killer whales worked as a group to keep it away from hauling onto the safety of another ice floe. The whales seemed to try and confuse the seal by causing turbulence in the water with their flukes and blowing bubbles under the water through their blowholes.

Away from the ice, the whales attempt to tire and eventually drown the animal by pulling it under water by its hind flippers. Eventually the seal succumbs to exhaustion and is usually divided up among the pod members underwater. In most cases, little of the seal's remains float to the surface, but in one instance the carcass rose to the surface and appeared to have been methodically skinned and dismembered before being eaten.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jim Milbury
jim.milbury@noaa.gov
562-980-4006
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Jefferson scientists deliver toxic genes to effectively kill pancreatic cancer cells
2. Scientists identify novel inhibitor of human microRNA
3. Argonne scientists peer into heart of compound that may detect chemical, biological weapons
4. MU scientists go green with gold, distribute environmentally friendly nanoparticles
5. Scientists identify gene that may contribute to improved rice yield
6. Scientists discover why a mothers high-fat diet contributes to obesity in her children
7. MU scientists see how HIV matures into an infection
8. Earth scientists keep an eye on Texas
9. Thinking it through: Scientists call for policy to guide biofuels industry toward sustainability
10. Scientists identify a molecule that coordinates the movement of cells
11. Scientists Find new migratory patterns for Mediterranean and Western Atlantic bluefin tuna
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
NOAA scientists find killer whales in Antarctic waters prefer weddell seals over other prey   
(Date:6/16/2016)... The global Biometric ... USD 1.83 billion by 2024, according to a ... proliferation and increasing demand in commercial buildings, consumer ... the market growth.      (Logo: ... of advanced multimodal techniques for biometric authentication and ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... June 9, 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems is proud ... work hours, for employers to make sure the right employees are actually signing in, ... ... ... ...
(Date:6/7/2016)...  Syngrafii Inc. and San Antonio Credit Union ... integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ eSignature "Wet" solution into ... result in greater convenience for SACU members and ... existing document workflow and compliance requirements. ... Highlights: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 01, 2016 , ... Orthogonal, ... on their recent FDA Class II 510(k) clearance for their flagship medical device, ... commercializing remote cardiac monitoring devices that rely on cloth-based nanosensors. While other companies ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... leader in rapid infectious disease tests, introduced the Company,s newest product, the INSTI HIV ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161201/444905 ) Continue Reading ... ... , bioLytical was invited by the Clinton Health ... Self Test to 350 pharmacy representatives in Nairobi and Mombasa, ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... , Nov. 30, 2016 Biotest Pharmaceuticals ... is pleased to announce the addition of its newest ... Kearney, Nebraska . The 15,200 square foot ... November 29th, 2016 and brings the total number of ... Ileana Carlisle , BPC,s Chief Executive Officer said ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... , 30. November 2016   Merck ... heute die Unterzeichnung einer Reihe von Vereinbarungen ... wird Evotec AG Screeningleistungen für Mercks Palette ... Der Zugriff auf diese Bibliotheken in Kombination ... einen schnelleren Weg zur Ermittlung und Erforschung ...
Breaking Biology Technology: