Orcas, also known as killer whales are notorious for their apex predator status and being some of the most intelligent animals in our oceans.
They’re found in all oceans around the world from the icy regions of Antarctica to warmer waters in Florida, Hawaii, and Australia.
Orcas typically live in pods of between 5 and 30 individuals. This gives them a relatively high success rate when it comes to hunting and means they can take on even the largest animals on earth.
A question that often comes up when discussing orcas and their hunting preferences and one that we’re going to answer today is “do orcas kill for fun?”
NO, orcas do NOT kill for fun. Whilst it may look this way as they leave a lot of waste from their kill, they hunt for the purpose of feeding and opt for only the most nutritious parts of their prey.
Do Killer Whales Kill For Fun?
Killer whales hunt for the purpose of feeding and ensuring their survival. But it’s true that it can look like orcas hunt for fun as they leave A LOT of waste behind from their prey.
Orcas typically only eat the most nutritious parts of their prey, such as the tongue, liver, and heart.
They will rip, tear and shred their prey in order to dissect it into smaller pieces so that they can reach the nutritious organs that provide them with the calories they need.
Killer whales are known to hunt Great white sharks and eat nothing but the liver. A white shark’s liver contains high amounts of fat and is packed full of nutrients.
This gives the killer whales the most “bang for their buck” when hunting and can provide the orca with a whopping 400 liters of oil and 2 million calories of energy!
Similar to how we humans prefer steak instead of eating a full cow, killer whales do the same and opt for only the tastiest and most nutritious parts of their prey.
Why Do Orcas Throw Their Prey?
Whilst orcas do not kill for the sole purpose of fun, they most certainly do play with their food from time to time.
Orcas have been seen all over the world throwing or tossing their prey, often seals, high up into the air during a hunt.
A spectacular image occurred from Andrew Lees, who owns Fiver Star Whale Watching back in 2020 which shows a whale tossing a seal into the air near Sidney Island.
Jackie Hildering, a director at the Marine Education and Research Society in Port McNeill said that the Orcas will often put on dramatic displays with prey when socializing, learning, or playing.
Tossing a seal may be a hunting style of a particular orca in order to disable the animal before going in for the kill, but it’s not essential to kill the seal.
Jackie goes on to say that it’s often the younger killer whales that exhibit such behaviors and that they are linked to learning and play.
Learning to hit prey with accuracy and manipulate small pieces of prey is a way for younger individuals to hone their hunting skills.
Do Orcas Kill For Revenge?
In 2020 off the coast of Spain and Portugal rogue pods of orca were attacking boats and yachts which resulted in them being towed back to the harbor in more than 30 separate cases.
Scientists were baffled as this is very unusual behavior for killer whales but after investigation, it’s thought that the attacks were carried out in revenge.
In shocking footage from an article in The Sun, a pod of orca can be seen ramming into a sailboat under the cover of darkness.
Scientists Victor J Henandez believes the pod is seeking revenge for illegal attacks on the pod with harpoons back in July.
The pod responsible for the attacks is led by a large male known as Pingu.
Henandez said, “sailors in the area who know Pingu’s pod very well due to their markings have claimed that they were attacked with harpoons in July.”
Orcas are some of the most intelligent animals on earth and have exceptional memory, they will most certainly remember and be traumatized by the event which is what Hernandez believes is the cause of the attacks.
Why Are Orcas So Violent?
Contrary to popular belief, orcas are NOT violent at all and are not half as dangerous as you may think. In fact, there is no record of an orca killing a human in the wild.
Whilst they may look menacing with their large black bodies and white eye patch, they’re not out to harm people and are well aware we are not part of their diet.
That said, orca are some of the most successful hunters on the planet. They are HIGHLY intelligent and use this to their advantage when hunting prey.
They use techniques such as spy-hopping to scope out prey lounging on ice caps, and they work together to produce a wave with their flukes that will wash prey off the ice ready for the taking.
As they hunt often hunt in large pods and are super smart, they’ll take on anything that lives on the ocean, including Great white sharks and even blue whales!
Next time you come across an orca just remember that there is no need to be scared of these magnificent animals.
They’re naturally curious around humans and are safe to be around in the wild.
Hopefully, you now have a clear answer to “do orcas kill for fun” and have a better understanding of how these hunters are so successful.
Whilst they do not kill for purely fun, they are known to play with their food, especially juvenile killer whales.
They are surprisingly safe to be around as a human, they’re much more interested in penguins, seals, fish, and even sharks!
Thanks for taking the time to read this article today and I’ll catch you in the next one!
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Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years and I’ve spent decades learning and dedicating myself to documenting all I can about the topic.