The Kodiak Killers

Every April around the start of the Kodiak Sac Roe Herring fishery, a pod of Orcas makes their annual appearance in and around Kodiak Harbor. These whales has been dubbed “The Kodiak Killers”. The pod consists of one large male named Bently due to his huge curved dorsal fin, 2 females and a few babies. This pod of Killer Whales is a transient pod. They travel around in search of their favorite food, marine mammals. The whales use the shelter of the Near Island Channel and the surrounding cannery waterfront to train their babies to become sea lion killers.

Every year the Killers catch a few sea lions on their way through the area. The sea lions know when the whales are around and they school and take shelter under docks and around pilings.You know when the Killer whales are around, because you can hear the sea lions growling and making a ruckus under the dock. The whales seem to work these groups of sea lions into a panicked frenzy. When this happens, the whales usually pick off one sea lion. They get him apart from the group and drag him out to deep water. Once separated from the group, the sea lion stands no chance. The whales seem to play with their new catch, slapping their tails down and tossing the sea lion around a bit. A few years ago, the Killers caught one right under the Island Seafoods dock. It was like being at Sea World. The whales were within 15 feet of where I was standing. Of course, I didn’t have my camera handy. Well yesterday I did have my camera. In the stinging rain, I captured a Sea Lion Kill in the Near Island Channel. Here are some photos of the action.

Action in the Near Island Channel

In the picture above, the sea lions are herded up next to the shore with the pod of whales just about 50 yards away. In the picture below, the whales have a sea lion separated from the herd and are taking turns biting at him. The sea lion is the brown image in the water.

Big Sea Lion in the jaws of a Killer Whale

Baby Orca learning to hunt

Herd of Sea Lions on the look out

The Killers make their exit

These Killer Whales will be around the Kodiak area for the next few weeks before they move on in search of fresh meals. I will update the site if there is any more action.