The orca, also known as the killer whale, is the most intelligent and powerful predator in the ocean. It is called the ocean’s apex predator because it has no natural predators. Orcas hunt and feed on a wide range of prey. Some of the common prey are fish, sea birds, squid, and seals. However, a common question many people ask is, “Do orcas feed on all types of seals? In particular, do orcas eat leopard seals?
The answer to this question is yes. Orcas eat leopard seals. Orcas are the only known predators of leopard seals. The first record of an Orca pod preying on leopard seals was in 1977; another incident happened in 1980. Although it is not a common occurrence, orcas prey on leopard seals just like other seals they meet.
The hunting strategy orcas use in hunting seals
Orcas are highly intelligent and are known to show different predatory instincts across different orca pods. Different orca pods, depending on the location, have developed special hunting tactics to hunt their prey. Some orcas hunt seals by breaching on land to snap them. Orca pods that hunt in the Arctic have been observed to make waves to knock out seals on ice caps. A very interesting moment was captured by a group of scientists when an orca pod made waves in order to knock off a leopard seal resting on an ice cap.
Are leopard seals too big for orcas to eat?
Perhaps the reason why the question “Do orcas eat leopard seals?” arises is that some people would assume that leopard seals are bigger and more aggressive than other seals, so orcas might be scared of hunting them.
While leopard seals are very big and aggressive, orcas, on the other hand, are bigger and more powerful. But first, let’s find out how powerful and aggressive leopard seals are.
Leopard seals are one of the largest species in the seal family. Only elephant seals and walruses are larger than leopard seals. The females are larger than the males, and they can grow as large as 590 kg (1,300 pounds) and 3.8 meters (10 feet). They have large reptilian-like heads and slender bodies. They also have fore-flippers. These flippers, together with their streamlined bodies, help them move through water at speeds up to 40 kph (25 mph).
Leopard seals are solitary animals. Generally, they hunt alone and are almost never seen with more than one or two other seals.
Leopard seals are opportunistic feeders, so they have a very diverse diet. However, their major food is Antarctic krill, which makes up about 45% of their diet. They hunt and eat other marine mammals like crabeater seals, Weddell seals, Antarctic fur seals, penguins, fish, and cephalopods.
Leopard seals interactions with humans
Leopard seals have a record of brutal interactions with humans. One of the incidents led to the death of biologist Kristy Brown in 2003. She was snorkeling in a cove when a leopard seal snapped her and held her 70 meters underwater for about 7 minutes. After she was found, her team was unable to resuscitate her.
There have been other records of aggressive behaviors towards humans, either by chasing after humans or by trying to drag them underwater. Therefore, it is advised that humans should be extremely careful when around leopard seals.
However, despite these records of aggression, there has also been positive interaction with humans. An American photographer named Paul Nicklen had a peaceful interaction with a leopard seal. bringing the photographer penguins.
Orcas hunt and eat the biggest mammal in the world, the blue whale; they hunt and eat one of the most aggressive sharks in the ocean, the great white shark; and they certainly can hunt down a leopard seal. Orcas are very successful hunters because they combine their strength, intellect, and numbers when hunting.