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.
There is often an argument that Orca (or killer whales) should not be displayed in aquariums as they show unnatural behaviours. While doing trick after trick would not be seen, and in the wild they might roam tens or hundreds of thousands of square miles in a year, many of the behaviours are indeed something that is seen in the wild.
Perhaps the most likely place to see interesting behaviours is during a hunt, and that is indeed what was recently captured.
Orcas swim most oceans around the world. Increasingly, humans are recognizing that far from being one species, there is actually many which have not interbred for in some cases millions of years. Furthermore, many populations are geographically isolated rarely meeting up with other members.
However, this demonstrates that while there are a number of effective predators in the sea from dolphins to sharks and whales, the killer whale is usually the undisputed predator. As well as taking dolphins reasonably regularly, killer whales often target other big predators including great white sharks. Indeed, while it is never easy to be sure of the reason that a wild species changes its behaviour, it is thought that the disappearance of the south african great white shark is linked to more regular sightings of the Orca in South African waters during the second half of the year when they are thought to be in residence.