Orcas are truly incredible animals, they’re intelligent, powerful, and oftentimes live in pods that can be 100 individuals strong.
They are top predators in the ocean and have a varied diet, including everything from penguins to blue whales and lots in between.
Moose, on the other hand, are terrestrial and can be found in forests all over North America, Europe, and Russia.
Whilst two completely different animals, moose and orcas do cross paths every once in a while, which brings us to the question of this post. Do orcas eat moose?
In short, YES, orcas do occasionally eat moose. In some parts of the world where moose enter orca territory, these marine predators will sometimes take advantage and eat the moose.
Let’s get into it…
Do Orcas Eat Moose?
Moose are not part of an orca’s regular diet, but sometimes orcas will come across moose when they are island hopping in search of food and need to enter the water.
When this happens, orcas do occasionally attack and eat moose, but there isn’t any hard evidence to suggest that killer whales eat moose regularly.
Orcas are opportunistic feeders that feed on a wide variety of food sources and can quickly adapt depending on what is available to them.
If there’s not much prey available, they will do whatever it takes to diversify their food source, which can sometimes include eating moose.
Where Do Orcas Hunt Moose?
There are not many places in the world where orcas and moose interact, but off the coast of Alaska and Canada, this encounter does sometimes take place.
Some moose carcasses have been found off the coast of Vancouver, Canada, with lacerations all over their body which are consistent with orca bites.
This would suggest that orcas are killing moose in these areas, and given that moose are not amazing swimmers, there is no escaping the top marine predator.
Moose are herbivores that only eat plants, which means they’re almost always on land grazing and filling themselves up.
But in some regions of Canada and Alaska, moose island hop between small grasslands to make the most of the untouched plants.
This is where orcas have an opportunity to strike, when the moose enter the water to hop between islands, orcas shoot their shot and can sometimes take down a moose.
However, it must be noted that these types of encounters are VERY rare. Moose are not part of an orca’s natural diet so they’re not killing moose often.
It wouldn’t be the first time an ocean dweller has dined on a terrestrial animal.
Around a decade ago, scientists were dumbfounded to find part of the jaw of a young polar bear inside a Greenland shark.
How Do Orcas Hunt Moose?
Orcas are INCREDIBLE hunters, they’re notorious for the various techniques that help them catch whales, dolphins, stingrays, penguins, and everything in between.
When it comes to hunting moose, the orcas will silently wait in the waters near the islands where the moose graze.
Once they enter the water, the moose attack as one, pulling the moose under and ultimately drowning these heavy terrestrial animals.
Moose have no hope against an orca pod, and there’s very little chance of escape from the moment they enter the water.
Even a solitary orca could quite easily make quick work of a moose, despite their enormous size, they’re not built to be in the water, so an adult orca can easily kill them for a quick meal.
Why Do Orcas Eat Moose?
Moose are the largest members of the deer family that can stand at seven feet tall and weigh a whopping 1,100 pounds.
They’re a hearty meal for an orca, so when the opportunity presents itself and if the orcas are finding there is a lack of prey in the area they may eat the moose.
During the winter seasons in Canada and Alaska area, orcas may find that there’s little food to keep them sustained, so a moose can provide an essential energy boost to keep them going.
It’s an easy kill for an orca pod that can be the difference between life and death for these animals.
Orcas will go to extraordinary lengths to secure a meal when they are hungry, with them even beaching themselves to catch a seal in some cases.
Transient killer whales will eat just about anything, and they’re no strangers to a calorie-rich great white shark liver.
Whilst they would get nowhere near the same nutritional value from a moose, they’re not picky eaters and wouldn’t think twice about eating a moose.
Killer whales need around 500lbs of food every day to stay healthy, and given that a moose can way up to 1,100 pounds, dived by three this could be as much as 60% of the orca’s daily intake.
The truth is, there’s not much evidence to support the theory that orcas are the natural predators of moose, but there’s enough to suggest that it does happen from time to time.
A hungry orca will stop at nothing to feed itself and its pod, so taking down a moose is easy if it means keeping itself alive.
What is known is that moose is not a large part of an orca’s diet, in fact, it’s incredibly rare that the two would even encounter each other in the wild.
But based on what’s been seen in Canada and Alaska, it’s fair to say that orca do feed on moose when they need to.
Orcas are some of the most intelligent animals on earth, so if any animal was to eat a moose, it would be orcas.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post today and I hope you have enjoyed it.
See you in the next one.
Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years. I’ve spent over a decade in the marine wildlife industry and spent years out in the field conducting research. In today’s modern world, an online blog is the best place for me to share my findings and reach as many people as possible to help educate and inspire others. Enjoy your time here and you’re welcome back anytime!