Orcas shock scientists with strange new behaviours

Threatened killer whales caught doing things never seen before

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New insights into Orca activities revealed. — Reuters

Marine researchers in their new study revealed crucial insights into the hunting habits, behaviours, and socialisation of orcas also known as killer whales which are large and powerful apex predators found in oceans all around the world.

The mighty orca whales take only one breath between their dives, the scientists revealed in the journal PLOS One after analysing data collected from drone footage, physiology, and statistics.

Orcas are also capable of eating great white sharks and attacking large boats all by themselves, reported Popular Science Wednesday.

The researchers took into account 11 northern and southern resident orcas off the coast of British Columbia. They feed on Chinook salmon.

The study co-author and a student at the University of British Columbia Tess McRae told the outlet: "Our northern resident killer whales are threatened and our southern resident killer whales are endangered. So, it’s really important for us to know how much energy these whales are using, and then kind of on the flip side, how much food these whales need to survive."

The experts discovered that orcas spend most of their time taking shallow dives, most of them lasting less than a minute.

"Killer whales are like sprinters who don’t have the marathon endurance of blue and humpback whales to make deep and prolonged dives," UBC professor Dr Andrew Trites said in a statement, who also co-authored the study.

Humans require more oxygen and their breathing increases during any activity, however, orcas take significantly less.

The data collected from different methods provided crucial insights into the orca’s deep water activities.

These endangered species are threatened for several reasons as chemical pollution, vessel strikes and less availability of food adversely impacted the mammals.