Here’s a real-life version of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea: An angler aboard a fishing charter in Fiji was recently onto a great catch—a marlin estimated to weigh roughly 300 pounds. By the time he reeled it in, though, only the head remained. Video and photos posted Monday on Instagram show that a pod of false killer whales engulfed and consumed the rest of the fish before it ever reached the boat.
“[I] can hardly believe what we witnessed today,” fishing guide Jaga Crossingham wrote in an Instagram post documenting the rare event. “A fired-up pack of false killer whales took down this 300-plus-pound marlin.”
The video opens with three black-backed false killer whales breaching ten to thirty yards from Crossingham’s boat. As the fisherman reels in his catch, the outline of a massive marlin appears beneath the surface. Then, one of the false killer whales peels off from the pack, and the head of a marlin surfaces—only its rostrum, pectoral fins, and the front part of its sail still intact.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” says one of Crossingham’s clients. “Wow, they ate everything,” another angler exclaims.
While it’s a rare site to witness, Crossingham’s footage depicts a behavior that is fairly typical of false killer whales. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), they’re known for depredating on hooked fish. “This is a concern for false killer whales that interact with the Hawaii longline fishery,” the agency writes on its website.
A second video, also posted by Crossingham, shows two of the false killer whales surfacing, breathing through their blowholes, and pushing what’s left of the marlin to the surface. Members of the species are highly social and well-known for sharing the fish they catch with other pod members. While they’re named for their resemblance to killer whales, they’re not related to the much larger mammals.
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