Hide and seek! Incredible drone footage shows a crafty seal using a mussel farm to hide from a group of hungry orcas

  • In an attempt to escape the orcas, the seal hid behind lines of mussel ropes
  • When it left its hiding place and headed for open water, it was caught and killed
  • Interactions involving man-made structures are rarely, if ever, caught on camera 

The prospect of being hunted by a group of hungry orcas is pretty terrifying for even the most fearsome creature. 

But one crafty seal used a cunning method in an attempt to hide from a group of orcas off the coast of Shetland. 

‘Extra special’ drone footage shows the seal using a mussel farm in an attemp to seek sanctuary from the predators. 

Emily Hague, a PhD student at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, said: ‘Interactions involving man-made structures are rarely, if ever, caught on camera. 

‘This makes this footage extra special and very insightful from a scientific point of view.’ 

‘Extra special’ drone footage shows the seal using a mussel farm in an attemp to seek sanctuary from the predators

Pair of orcas have killed at least 8 Great White Sharks since 2017

Two killer whales are thought to have killed at least eight Great White Sharks off the coast of South Africa since 2017, and managed to scare off many more.

Researchers found that the Great Whites have been avoiding certain regions of the Gansbaai coast for fear of being hunted by orca.

Many of the shark carcasses washed up without their livers and hearts, or with other injuries distinctive to the orca pair.

Read more 

In an attempt to escape the orcas, the seal sought to conceal itself between two lines of mussel ropes at the Grunna Voe mussel farm, which is to the north of Lerwick, Shetland.

When it left its hiding place and headed for open water, it was caught and killed by the whales.

Ms Hague said it was ‘fascinating’ to see them ‘potentially being used by prey to hide from predators’.

But she also warned that if creatures such as seals end up spending more time in and around locations such as fish farms and offshore energy installations, there could be a greater risk of cases of entanglement.

The seal’s attempt to evade the orca pod was captured on camera by local drone pilot Nick McCaffrey, who had been alerted to the whales’ presence by a local Facebook page and WhatsApp group detailing any sightings.

His 38 minutes of footage from the incident in March this year was then analysed by Ms Hague, a student at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University.

Ms Hague added that the drone footage ‘gives us a whole new perspective on how marine life, in this case two top predators, are living with man-made structures in our seas’.

‘Interactions like this can also shed light on potential risks to marine mammals.

‘Last year, a juvenile member of this killer whale group died entangled in rope and was found on Orkney.

‘If this group is spending a lot of time around marine structures, then this may have associated risks, like entanglement.’

Ms Hague has published her analysis of the incident in the the latest Aquatics Mammals journal, out on July 15.

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