Seal Spotted Trying To Escape Orca Hunt In Stunning Drone Footage

A seal has been spotted being chased by killer whales off the coast of Scotland.

The orcas were filmed via drone on March 6 by Nick McCaffery. The seal can be seen attempting to hide from its pursuers by hiding at THE Grunna Voe mussel farm, located north of Lerwick on the Shetland Islands.

Sadly, the seal was eventually captured and eaten by the hungry orcas.

Orcas hunt in their pods, often coordinating their attacks to better catch their prey, using different techniques to catch different species. Occasionally they have been observed to even beach themselves to catch seals on land.

The 38-minute-long drone footage was sent to Ph.D. student Emily Hauge at Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University, who analyzed the behavior of the animals.

"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," she said in a statement.

orca pod
Stock image of an orca pod swimming in formation. The footage mentioned shows a pod hunting a seal, who then attempts to hide inside a Scottish mussel farm. iStock / Getty Images Plus

"It's fascinating that these novel structures in the marine environment are potentially being used by prey to hide from predators," Hauge said.

It's very rare for man-made structures like the mussel farm being used by animals as shelter to be caught on film.

"Knowledge of whether marine species interact with, avoid, or accommodate and adapt to such structures is essential to ensure that further development of marine environments do not compromise conservation objectives of marine species," said Hague in a study published in the journal Aquatic Mammals on July 15. "It is clear that both marine and terrestrial predator–prey interactions are increasingly occurring in settings that are in some way defined by the Anthropocene."

Marine animals have been increasingly observed using human-made structures to hide from predators, or just to rest on. In 2016, a seal was filmed clambering onto a boat in an attempt to escape the clutches of another pod of killer whales, and in 2021, "Wally the walrus" gained notoriety in the U.K. for continually sinking small boats after climbing onto them in every harbor he visited.

"Interactions like this can also shed light on potential risks to marine mammals," said Hague. "Last year a juvenile member of this killer 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."

Plastic pollution and other human-made items in the oceans are increasingly damaging to marine populations, killing them either by being eaten and causing them to be poisoned or to starve to death, or instead entangling them, resulting in them drowning or suffocating. An estimated 100,000 marine mammals die from plastic in the oceans every year.