04-14-2016: Killer Whales Take Down A Common Dolphin

Today was a tough call. NOAA Marine Weather was calling for small craft advisory at 11:00 AM. Our trip this morning was scheduled for a 10:30 AM departure. That doesn’t give us much time before conditions start to deteriorate. So we felt like it would make more sense to reschedule everyone and try and again tomorrow.

Monterey Bay Killer Whale

Killer whales on the prowl. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 04-14-2016.

I get up very early and conditions were manageable at the crack of dawn. So I decided to take the boat out to see if I could find some orcas. I can do that. It’s one of the great things about owning boats. I have open access to The Monterey bay. I like it that way. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve either been seeing killer whales just about every day or we have heard reports of them being seen by other boats. This is the best orca season we’ve had in a few years. We are having regular sightings. Pretty much daily.

Monterey Bay Killer Whale

It wasn’t long before I thought I saw what looked like jumping orcas. So I was encouraged. But they were still a ways off. After about 15 minutes of cruising I was on them. And I also saw a gray whale in the area heading north. So I’m thinking this could get interesting. But the killer whales were heading in a Southwest direction the last time they went down. I slowed the boat down a little and kept an eye on the gray whale, wondering if the orcas were going to turn around. After about seven minutes, the orcas popped up about 1/2 ┬ámile to the Southwest as they seemed to have held their Southwest course and either did’t notice the gray whale or were not interested.

Monterey Bay Killer Whale

Large male killer whale. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 04-14-2016.

After about 15-20 minutes of tracking these orcas, I noticed a large pod of long-beaked common dolphins making their way directly toward the killer whales from the direction of shore. I’ve been in this position one other time and I was pretty sure what was about to happen. The next thing I knew there was a huge splash. It was an orca coming up on a common dolphin. The stampede was on after that. Check out the video of the moment the attack happened to see what I mean. Incredible morning out there.

Monterey Bay Killer Whale

Killer whales waiting for more dolphins to show up. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 04-14-2016.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

Killer Whales

The end result when killer whales come across a large pod of common dolphins. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 04-14-2016

About Michael Sack

Boat Captain, Monterey Bay marine life naturalist and guide. Photographer and Videographer.
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