The elusive killer whales that roam the eastern North Pacific in search of marine mammals aren’t fussy eaters after all.
They clamp down on gray whale snouts and drown them under the waves. They munch calves. They snatch northern fur seals. They scarf down Minke and humpback whales. They chase Dall’s porpoise and seals. They even, occasionally, eat Steller sea lions.
If it’s got flippers, fur and flesh, it may be on the menu du jour, according to four recent scientific papers that compiled hundreds of field observations, video monitoring of a sea lion rookery, and sophisticated analysis of fatty acids and stable isotopes in killer whale tissue.
But these killer whales, the secretive ecotype known as “transients,” aren’t very numerous and don’t eat fish. So far, they’re keeping some secrets to themselves, like where they spend the off-season.