28 June 2012

How killer whales coordinate their attack


This is truly impressive.  To dislodge a seal from an ice floe, they don't bump into the floe (at the risk of even a minor injury to themselves), but rather create a wave that accomplishes the end result.  And they do so in perfect synchronicity. How do they learn when to dive in order to maximize the wave crest?  Wow.

9 comments:

  1. Cetaceans are social animals with fairly complex social structure. They learn to hunt and dive the same way wolves learn to hunt and humans learn to walk and clap and talk: watching their elders and imitating them.

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  2. Dolphins use a similar coordinated effort to create a wave that will wash fish up onto the shore. The dolphins then wriggle up behind them and snap up the fish as they flop about helplessly. (Sorry, no time to locate the clip now, but I've seen a video of this.)

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  3. Death is "gripping"....

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  4. That last scene is pretty tragic.

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    1. I agree. I wonder whether he was simply too fatigued to continue fleeing, or whether so many endorphins had kicked in that he was effectively narcotized.

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    2. That's an interesting thought, actually. You just made me wonder if the orcas weren't actually practicing a sort of humane slaughter, sensing that they could get the seal to a point where its endorphins effectively numb it to the effects of dying, or allow it to at least completely dissociate from the experience prior to the end. There's no doubt in my mind that orcas are one of the smart ones, along with dolphins. It's also interesting that they seem to respect humans as another intelligent species.

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  5. I don't think they were really creating a wave per-se, but creating a depression that the ice would fall into. A wave hitting it straight on would not be very effective. It just seems like a really big wave when the water falls back onto the ice after it fell.

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  6. Just added it to my Netflix list. Looks terrific.

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  7. Made all the more poignant by having the cello concerto from the later post playing simultaneously - it just happened that they finished almost together... the moment the seal concedes is perfectly scored by the music.

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