A group of nine Bigg’s orcas attacked and killed an adult minke whale near Smith Island, Washington — about 40 kilometres southeast of Victoria — on Friday.
The scene played out in front of a boat of whale watchers as two families of killer whales worked in tandem to bring down the nine-metre minke, according to the Pacific Whale Watch Association.
The association said it was working with researchers from the Northeast Pacific Minke Whale Project to confirm the whale’s identity. The group suspects the minke whale was a member of the seasonal Salish Sea population first documented in this region in 1982.
“It’s thought that minkes only live to be about 50 years old, so despite a dramatic end, this whale lived a full life,” the whale watch association said in a social media post. “Predation events can often stir up mixed emotions, especially when the prey is a whale we’ve come to know over years of whale watching in the Salish Sea.”