July 30, 2016
There is a sinister ripple in the water… and seconds later this gaggle of eider ducks is scattered in a sudden explosion of violence.
Hunted down by a pod of hungry killer whales, the hapless ducks are a sitting target for one of nature’s most fearsome predators.
These extraordinary scenes were captured not in the wilds of the Arctic, but off the north-east coast of Scotland.
And for many of the unfortunate ducks, the looming black dorsal fin and gaping jaws of the killer whales – also known as orcas – were the last things they would see.
Wildlife photographer Guy Edwardes, who caught the dramatic confrontation on camera, said: ‘As the orcas approached, they caused the eiders to scatter.
‘They did not have time to get airborne. Some of the ducks dived and others fled to the shore – it was only those that survived.’
Mr Edwardes had been tracking the pod of orcas along the coast of Shetland’s Mainland when he got the shots.
He said: ‘They were hunting all morning and as they approached the headland, I managed to get right down to the shore.
‘There were four or five orcas in this particular pod, including an enormous male with a 5ft dorsal fin.’
The cold waters surrounding the Shetland Islands are one of best places in Britain to catch a glimpse of orcas – but an entire pod is still a rare and spectacular sight.
Although they are scarce around Britain, orcas are found in all of the world’s oceans, from the Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas.
Killer whales are apex predators, as there is no animal that preys on them. They hunt in packs and can grow up to 32ft long and weight as much as ten tons.
Some orcas feed mainly on fish, others on sharks and rays, while some hunt marine mammals such as seals and dolphins. Seabirds and penguins are a tasty treat too.
They have even been known to attack large adult baleen whales.
For video of orca hunting Dolphin, look HERE