Do Orcas Eat Dolphins? (Surprising Truth)

do orcas eat dolphins

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Orca, commonly known as killer whales are among the most intelligent and powerful predators on the planet.

These majestic creatures have a fierce reputation and are capable of taking down the largest animals to ever roam earth, the blue whale.

Whilst often depicted as ferocious killers, there’s still much to learn about orcas from their hunting habits to how they interact with humans.

In this post, we’re going to explore the relationship between orcas and dolphins, and answer the common question of do orcas eat dolphins?

Stick around as we delve into the fascinating world of these marine mammals to uncover the truth about their diet and relationship with their own kind.

Do Orcas Eat Dolphins?

Yes, orcas do eat dolphins. These top predators have a varied diet that includes fish, seals, whales, stingrays and dolphins.

They’re opportustic feeders that will not pass up on the chance to prey on a dolphin, and in some parts of the world, dolphins are a comon target for orcas.

do orcas eat dolphins
Image by J. Maughn

Some populations of orcas have been observed specializing in hunting specific dolphin species, such as the Pacific white-sided dolphins off the B.C. and Washington coasts.

That said, it’s worth noting that not all orca populations prey on dolphins, and the relationship between these two animals is complex and multifaceted.

How Do Orcas Catch Dolphins?

Dolphins are fast, and I mean fast! They can swim at up to 54 kilometers per hour and are incredibly agile, making them not the easiest prey to catch.

They’re also highly intelligent too, just like the orcas. So when it comes to hunting dolphins, orcas need to be calculated and use their power and speed to their advantage.

One method for orcas hunting dolphins is pursuit hunting, which is simply chasing the dolphins down over a long period and exhausting the dolphins, trying to separate an individual from the group.

This way the orcas can pick off the weak or old, but orcas may also slam their large bodies into dolphins which stun or injure them, making them much easier to catch.

Another effective techniques orcas use to hunt dolphins is flipping them over. They use thei large tails to flip the dolphin out of the water, creating space for another pod member to snatch them up.

In many cases, orcas work together as a pod to disorientate and exhaust the dolphins, after all they too are highly intelligent and larger, more powerful versions of their prey.

Orcas are so good at hunting that they can catch just about anything they set their sights upon, which is why they hold the title as apex predators.

Are Orcas And Dolphins Friends?

Whilst orcas and dolphins are part of the same cetacean family, they are not considered friends as they are two seperate animals.

Orcas are top predators that actively hunt and kill dolphins in some parts of the world, but it’s thought that the two can communicate with one another through clicks, whistles and buzzes.

Killer whales are the only predators that kill Pacific white-sided dolphins, so they’re not exactly best buds.

However, some fish-eating dolphins have been seen offering dolphins protection from their dolphin eating cousins according to CBC.

Research have even captured drone footage of dolphins playing with orca, just a few feet from their hungry jaws in some cases.

There relationship is complex, and whilst some pods eat dolphins, others do not, therefore, some orcas are much more friendly towards dolphins than others.

Are Orcas Aggressive To Dolphins?

The orcas around Washington and B.C. are aggressive to the Pacific white-sided dolphins, as they are hunting and trying to catch their food.

Killer whales are marine mammals that typically feed on fish, seals, penguins and sea lions, but they have been observed being aggressive and eating dolphins in certain areas as mentioned above.

It’s important to note that not all orcas are aggressive toward dolphins, and many fish-eating orcas have been observed playing peacefully with dolphins.

It just depends on which orca pods have gotten used to eating dolphins as a food source, and which are happy to play with their relatives.

The orcas that eat dolphins will be aggressive towards them, and the orcas that don’t won’t be and may even play with them.

Why Do Orcas Eat Dolphins?

The reasons why orcas eat dolphins in some parts of the world varies, and it’s thought that it could be to eliminate possible competition when the two are competing for the same prey.

Orcas are much bigger than dolphins and can work together to take them out, so eliminating the competition and grabbing a meal whilst at it could be worthwhile for orcas.

It could also be due to terretorial disputes to deter the dolphins from coming back to their hunting ground, or it could be simply opportunistic hunting.

Orca are hunters that will take a shot at anything, from stingrays to blue whales and almost everything inbetween, including dolphins.

two orcas swimming in the ocean
Image by ocat

A Pacific white-sided dolphin would serve as a hearty meal for an orca, lots of protein and calories to sustain the pod.

The reasons are still speculative as it’s still not certain why certain orca feed on a particular species of dolphin and why others do not.

The orcas in the Washington and B.C. area have learned specialized hunting techniques that have been passed down generations, so it’s likely been taught to them that these dolphins are a reliable food source.

Wrapping Up

In summary, orcas are known to feed eat dolphins. These apex predators will eat just about anything they can get ahold of, including dolphins.

Whilst not a primary food source for orcas, these opportunistic feeders will not pass up on the opportunity to catch a dolphin if it presents itself.

The reasons for this predation are likely down to reducing competition, securing territory as well as opportunistic feeding.

Not all orcas feed on dolphin, and some pods have even been observed playing with them peacefully.

Orcas and dolphins have a highly complex relationship which is still being studies today, so there’s still lots to learn about how the two species interact.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Catch you in the next one.