A commercial whale watching cruise took off for its regular Tuesday morning ride around Monterey Bay, and came upon a group of about two dozen offshore killer whales in deep water about 16 miles from Monterey Harbor Dec. 13.
The group of whales appeared to be feeding, though Katlyn Taylor, a naturalist with Monterey Bay Whale Watch, says it can be hard to tell from a boat: When predators are eating marine mammals, the prey will come to the surface looking for air, giving whale-watchers a good vantage point, but when the prey is an animal like a shark or a fish, it's rare to see the action.
Drone photographer and videographer Slater Moore was on board, and captured the scene from above, showing clearly from above that the group of whales, including a couple of small calves, are attacking what Taylor says appears to be a thresher shark or a sevengill shark.
Spotting offshore killer whales in groups of about 25 is not uncommon, Taylor says, but getting this perspective is.
"A lot of times when we see offshore killer whales it's hard to tell what they are eating. We hardly ever get footage to see what it actually is," she says.
"They specialize in sharks, and probably some types of offshore fish. It's pretty lucky to see them."