|The Orcas of the Peninsula Valdes
The Orcas at the Peninsula Valdes are the only Orcas known to strand themselves on the beach to capture sea lion pups and
elephant seal pups. Their numbers are not large--approxomiately 15 in the area. Only about five of the orca actually perform the
stranding activity. Those who are proficient at stranding on the beach will capture sea lion pups for others in their pods as well.
Except at one beach which is not open to the public, the Orcas must attack at high tide. Also, if it is stormy or winds are coming
from the north, the orcas can not attack.
Our first day was windy so we did not even bother to make the one hour drive to Punta Norte where the attack channel and the
public viewing platform exists.
The second day we were up at 5:30 and off at 6:30 with high expectations. No Orcas, but radio reports said they were further
south where they had killed an elephant seal pup. Note the red in this picture.
There were five orcas. After their feeding frenzy, they played and rubbed each other as an expression of their enjoyment of their
The orcas on the Peninsula are the only orcas known to surf.
The next morning we arrived at Punta Norte early in the morning at low tide again. Once again the orcas were down south about
50 kilometers where they normally do not appear.
They came by very close but no activity.
The third morning, and once again we went south to observe the orcas. No feeding frenzy, but we did get to see them practice
going up on the beach.
The mother nudged her baby up to the beach as well for practice.
We were at the Peninsula for almost two weeks before we finally experienced the orca sea lion attacks while sitting on the beach
at Attack Alley. The third day of our permits to be on the beach, the orcas arrived just before dusk and started cruising the beach.
The light was poor, but you can see the orcas coming right up to the beach and we know they got several sea lion pups.
Looking at the right side of the photo you can see a pup about to become dinner.
Here, as it was becoming dark, an orca swam right up on the beach.
When orcas catch their food, they usually play with it. Before you feel too sorry for the sea lion pups, remember that sea lions
indulge in the same behaviour when they catch their prey.
I apologize for the quality of the next photo which was taken in the near dark, but you can see a sea lion pup in the jaws of an
With darkness we went home, but we were on the beach at the first crack of dawn the next morning. The orcas had stayed in the
area all night during low tide and were ready to attack again as high tide peaked at dawn.
They cruised by over and over again.