July 21, 2004
As we approach the Albatross Banks, the high swells and Beaufort 5 are making sightings a bit more challenging, but our first sighting of the morning was a pair of fin whales cutting through the rough surf at top speed. Fin whales are known as the "greyhounds of the sea" for their ability to travel greater than 20 miles per hour. To date however, we had not seen many fin whales in our sightings traveling in such fast bursts of speed.
Shortly thereafter, we determined the reason for the fin whales' haste. A large orca with a dorsal fin of at least eight feet surfaced, accompanied by a pod of six individuals, were also swimming at top speed in apparent pursuit of the fin whales. The pod was most likely of the transient ecotype, as it appeared to be attempting to prey on the fin whales. It is amazing that orcas, at a maximum length of 30 feet, can pursue and successfully prey upon the fin whales measuring up to 80 feet in length.
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