Shell shock: Killer whale stuns tourists with Galapagos turtle attack (VIDEO)
The Bolivar Channel off the coast of Ecuador is teeming with marine wildlife, drawing scores of nature loving tourists to the area. But according to local tour group Quasar Expeditions, one must “expect the unexpected” when visiting the Pacific Ocean beauty spot.
Footage of the moment an orca whale carried out the surprise attack on a sea turtle is creating waves online.
The video was captured on May 29 as a charter boat was ferrying guests around the island of Fernandina.
It shows a vessel pulling up alongside the large whale, before it suddenly dives beneath the surface and launches an unsuspecting turtle into the sky.
One woman who witnessed the incident later wrote on the Quasar Expeditions blog how the killer whale then ate the Pacific Green turtle.
“He [the whale] was having a bit of fun playing with his dinner like a kid tossing popcorn before gulping it. Lenses clicked and many of us got memorable photos,” she wrote.
A Quasar Expedition spokesperson said that while orca whales are not uncommon in the area, it is “extremely rare” to see one hurling a sea turtle from the ocean.
The employee added that orcas are “opportunistic predators and feed on species including sea lions, dolphins, fish and in this case, green sea turtles.”
After footage of a similar marine-life-launch appeared online last year, University of London scientist Rüdiger Riesch explained to Newsweek that killer whales are known to strike or slap their prey to debilitate them - making them easier to consume.
Riesch said the whales typically bat their catch with their fins, but don’t usually manage to propel them out right of the water.