Killer Whale Attack Triggers Epic Dolphin ‘Stampede’

When dolphins breach from the sea, it’s usually seen as playful behavior. This dolphin encounter, however, can only be described as purely terrifying.

Michael Sack, captain and co-owner of Sanctuary Cruises, was out on his boat in Monterey Bay, California, last week, when he noticed what he estimated to be 1,000 dolphins swimming in the distance, the Bay Area’s ABC7 reported.

But he wasn’t the only one watching them.

A group of orcas was lurking nearby, waiting for the perfect time to attack.

Sack kept a camera running as the killer whales ambushed the unsuspecting pod of dolphins. The attack triggered a frantic “stampede.”

Orcas are powerful and highly intelligent hunters. (Just watch them take down a gray whale calf.) They work in groups, communicating with echolocation, to target and attack their prey.

“They’re basically talking to each other in whatever language killer whales use,” Dr. Jim Harvey, director of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, told The Mercury News. “They’re able to synchronize with each other and understand what the other individuals are doing in orchestrating a kill.”

Orcas travel to Monterey Bay every spring to hunt gray whales and their calves as they migrate from Mexico to the waters off Alaska. This year, experts say they’ve seen record numbers.

In a normal season, local researchers will see up to eight orcas at a time. This April, they have observed 20 killer whales hunting in the area, The Mercury News reported.

This stretch of coast may be one of the only places in the world where you are likely to see killer whales hunting other large animals, according to Nancy Black, a marine biologist with Monterey Bay Whale Watch.

“It’s the biggest battle in nature, right here in your own backyard,” Black told the Monterey Herald.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/04/20/killer-whale-dolphin-stampede-monterey_n_9750598.html