Orca are generally regarded as the apex predator in the sea. There are obviously others that are good contenders, such as the great white shark – but when orca are nearby, great white sharks go very quiet in an attempt to not draw attention.
It would seem that nothing is too big to be food. Coordinated female lead pods of orca have been documented ramming the whale, and then eating its tongue before it dies.
It is, I suppose, not something that should be remotely surprising. Orca have developed ways of feeding on all sorts of food that would at first glance be out of reach. From rushing in towards a beach, allowing them to aquaplane up onto the beach to grab sea lions, to stunning fish with their tale – stopping them darting away, there is a fascinating range of hunting techniques that they employ.
What is interesting, is that this behaviour of predating blue whales was documented on 3 occasions, showing that it was not chance or a rare event. The first two were killed just 16 days apart, with the third a couple of years later. On each occasion more than 10 orca took part, with young watching from the side-lines.
In each instance, once the initial group of orca killed the whale as many as 50 other Orca joined the feast over the next 6 hours, along with a host of other scavengers. After the first feeding frenzy, the orca did not return to the carcass, which was finished off by the scavengers.