"Free Willy" may seem just a little less adorable after you check out this video of a killer whale beaching itself in order to capture seal pups for breakfast. This orca may be a frightening enough predator in the water, but they appear to pack a wallop on land too. Researchers believe the killer whales have learned this hunting technique over time, according to ABC News.
The killer whales (actually a member of the dolphin family, according to the National Marine Mammal Laboratory) shown on the coast of Argentina, use the surf to propel themselves past the edge of the water to snag seal and sea lion pups as they play, blissfully unaware of the danger. Sometimes they eat the seals for themselves; other times, researchers believe, they pull the animal into the water to train young orcas for future hunts, according to National Geographic.
"It's just awesome, awe inspiring to see these creatures launch themselves onto the beach and snatch these baby seals," Howard Rosenbaum of the Wildlife Conservation Society explained to ABC News.
This behavior is seemingly unnatural for orcas, as they are unable to survive on land and the danger of becoming lodged on the beach is real. Weighing thousands of pounds, whales have difficulty moving on land. If whales are out of water for even a few minutes, the weight of their body can crush its own organs, according to Whale Facts. In addition, whales (and orcas) need water to survive because it keeps their bodies cool and hydrated, according to Whale Facts.
So what is the significance of this hunting technique?
"One of the most amazing things is that this is learned behavior," said Rosenbaum, who has studied the whales' behavior. "The whales actually teach each other how to do it."