Whale Watchers in North Iceland Observe Slaughter Skip to content

Whale Watchers in North Iceland Observe Slaughter

Around 100 tourists on a whale watching tour with Nordur-Sigling from Húsavík on Skjálfandaflói bay in northeast Iceland were in for a shock on Tuesday night when they observed a group of killer whales attack a larger minke whale, slaughter and eat it.

“No one was expecting to observe slaughter but we decided to follow this natural phenomenon because it is very unusual,” Heimir Hardarson, marketing director of Nordur-Sigling, told Morgunbladid, adding that the tourists, who were mostly foreign, had been very taken aback by the spectacle.

Tuesday was likely the first time that pictures have been taken of killer whales attacking a larger mammal in Icelandic waters. Killer whales are on top of the food chain of predators in the ocean and are sometimes called the wolves of the sea.

Killer whales are divided into two groups—which some say are two different species—one of which only feeds on fish and another which hunts mammals of all sizes. Until now, only the first group was believed to live in Icelandic waters.

“It was obviously very organized and not rushed at all,” Hardarson described. “They acted like those who are in power and the calves jumped around and played in the blood.”

Hardarson and his associates counted between 20 and 30 killer whales that participated in the attack. They were very coordinated; they had surrounded the minke whale and then took charge in turn.

Hardarson said the minke whale had been terrified. “It was so confused that it swam into the boat two times and one time it looked as if it was going to hide underneath it.”

The minke whale died after a heroic fight, Hardarson said, and then there was a great feast for the killer whales which shared their catch with every member of the group.

Killer whales are known to have killed great white sharks and blue whales, but they are not known to have attacked people.

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