Brett Heinrichs on Sunday uploaded rare video footage showing killer whales attacking a pod of sperm whales to get to one of its calves. (Video posted above; not for the squeamish.)
The footage was shot from a boat during a recent expedition off Sri Lanka, but some of of the crew jumped in during this dramatic predation event.
"Our hearts pounded as we watched the orcas tear into these sperm whales many times their size," said Shawn Heinrichs, Brett's brother and founder of Blue Sphere Media. "When I garnered the courage to jump into the water and join the frenzy, all eyes fixed on me, wondering if I would become easy prey for these formidable apex predators."
The underwater footage has not yet been released. Shawn Heinrichs, however, said he was approached by two male killer whales and captured several close passes.
Killer whales, or orcas, are merciless predators and when targeting whales they usually work as a team to separate a calf from its mother and, in this case, the rest of the pod.
Brett Heinrichs wrote in the comments section of his video:
"I believe the orcas killed the youngest calf. We saw six sperm whales upon arrival and five eventually left the scene. At one point we saw the youngest calf separated from the pod and being hammered by orcas."
--Hat tip to Tim Zimmermann