A female orca spyhops. She and her small group of transient orcas (three other females plus a baby) had just killed and consumed a Dall porpoise. During the aftermath, occasionally a hunk of porpoise would be propelled toward the surface near the baby orca. Clearly the adult orcas were teaching the baby orca valuable lessons in how to hunt and how to eat.

SE Alaska, USA

July 9, 2010

Canon 7D, Canon 100-400 mm 4.5/5.6mmL lens, shutter 1/1000, f/5.6, exposure bias +1.0, shutter priority, focal length 260mm, ISO 400


alaska, gina_ruttle, orca, mammal, nature, dolphin, water, whale, whalegeek, wildlife

It is my sincere wish that visitors to my portfolio experience the beauty and wonder of nature. Moreover my hope is that my photographs will inspire viewers to be proactive toward the protection of wildlife and its habitat, those efforts ultimately making a far better world for all beings.

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  • Jenny Dean
    Jenny Deanover 3 years ago

    always a pleasure Gina :)

  • Uhoh, I screwed up on this title…sigh. Better get around to fixing this. Thanks so much Jenny!

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • Betty Mackey
    Betty Mackeyover 3 years ago

    Sleek and amazing!

  • Oops, I meant to do something else with this image and then, voila! There it was on my bubble page…:-)) Thank you, Betty!

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • Ann J. Sagel
    Ann J. Sagelover 3 years ago

    Just amazing

  • Hey, Ann, thank you so much for your comment! I jazzed it up with regard to the title and didn’t realize I had done so until I saw the comments. That will make me pay more attention to what I’m doing next time I fiddle around with photos…:-))

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • Brenda Boisvert
    Brenda Boisvertover 3 years ago

    Wonderful capture. :-)

  • Thank you, Brenda. One of these days I hope I’ll be favored with blue skies and blue water while searching for my favorite whales and dolphins. You should have plenty of blue water in Maui on your whale watches…:-))

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • dedmanshootn
    dedmanshootnover 3 years ago

    cool shot and backstory

  • Thank you! The Dall porpoise population in that area was under siege for a couple of days by transient orcas. It’s not easy to watch but orca have to eat too.

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • Farras Abdelnour
    Farras Abdelnourover 3 years ago

    this is beautiful!

  • Thank you, Farras! Glad you enjoyed this lovely dolphin.

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • Krys Bailey
    Krys Baileyover 3 years ago

    Fantastic shot Gina! We saw orcas in the Southern Ocean (their white patches are green with some algae) but not close like this!

  • Krys, thank you. I wish I had taken the photos my husband took of orcas in the process of nailing Dall’s porpoise (naturally I was changing memory cards when all the action took place). He snapped several terrific images of a female orca breaching over the porpoise to stun it. In fact, in one orca breach photo one can see the doomed Dall porpoise flinging into the air. The poor Dall’s population was decimated in the area of Tebenkoff Bay over the course of a couple days with all the hungry transient orcas patrolling. Oddly enough the group of orcas that were teaching the baby how to hunt and eat began to swim around a lone humpback whale for a bit after finishing nudging the hunks of porpoise toward the surface. The humpback was quite calm considering transients were circling the great whale, only performing a few halfhearted tail swishes through the water. Could this humpback have been a young inexperienced whale that did not realize how deadly the transient orcas can be? Who knows? Suddenly two other humpbacks came barreling toward the orcas, trumpeting loudly upon their approach. This odd “dance” of the circling orcas continued around the humpbacks for quite a long time with the two newcomer humpbacks being a bit more annoyed toward the orcas. Perhaps it was another school session for the young orca. Just last night I was editing video and found the video of the orcas and trumpeting humpbacks. (It is not very good, otherwise I’d post it.) While this drama was under way,the eerie cooperative bubblenetting calls of another group of nearby humpbacks as they herded and lunged for schools of herring was broadcasting over a hydrophone deployed in the water . That was quite a day on the water. So much is happening beneath the waves! Thanks for sharing your Southern Ocean memories with me, Krys. I long to return there again one day. Isn’t Nature grand??

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • walraji
    walrajiover 3 years ago


  • Thank you so very much!

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • Cherubtree
    Cherubtreeover 3 years ago

    Love it!

  • Thank you so much! I’m happy you stopped by for a look…:-))

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • BigCatPhotos
    BigCatPhotosover 3 years ago

    Incredible as always. Great timing and incredible to see…..although I still feel a little sorry for the porpoise!

  • Hey, BCP, I know what you mean about feeling badly for the porpoise. The days spent in Tebenkoff Bay were filled with lots of orca activity, much of it spent nailing Dall’s porpoises. There were several times orcas were seen breaching onto prey with all sorts of splashing and churning water while in Tebenkof Bay. Movies and SeaWorld performances make orcas appear to be always benevolent, friendly creatures but they are in fact magnificent apex predators. Incidentally, transient orcas such as the the female in the photo above rove around in small groups generally consisting of two to five individual orcas while searching for sea mammal prey such as seals, sea lions and dolphins. Conversely, resident populations of orcas limit their diet to salmon, their resident pods often numbering up to and even over thirty individuals. Orcas are known to attack and kill great whales such as humpbacks, grays and even blue whales, the largest animal on the planet. Okay, whale geek lesson over for now….

    Dall’s porpoises are beautiful creatures with black and white coloration that bears a strong resemblance to orca. Years ago a naturalist friend told me of how she heard a shout from her guests onboard a small boat in SE Alaska. A male orca was swimming at the bow with a “baby orca” swimming next to the male. Rushing up to the bow, the naturalist recognized immediately that the “baby orca” was not an orca but a Dall porpoise the big male orca had managed to separate from the dolphin’s pod. As the big orca tired its prey our friend said the orca looked up toward the humans above and then at the doomed dolphin that was swimming for its very life. All of a sudden the orca’s great mouth opened and took the exhausted dolphin down into the depths. On television programs the camera often cuts away before we have to watch a hunter take its prey but in real life, well things are not always very pretty.

    Confession time…this photo was not originally intended to be published; I originally combined it in the description of another photo of a spyhopping humpback whale simply for comparison’s sake but then I managed to publish the photo by mistake last evening when I was paying halfhearted attention to what I was doing. Mea culpa. Oh, what the heck, it can remain published because then I can continue to spread the “gospel” of whales all that much more..:-)))

    Thanks for stopping by. Always great hearing from you! Say hello to the big cats for me.

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

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