Pictured: How killer whales seal the fate of prey by working together to create waves that knock them into the water


Prey: Two killer whales circle the seal in the Antarctic before adopting a team technique to knock it off the ice

The seal feels perfectly safe lying on the Antarctic ice even if it is surrounded by a pod of killer whales.

But within minutes it has been knocked into the water in a clever team tactic before being killed.

These astonishing pictures show how the sea predators work together - and the technique provides meals for killer whales three out of every four times they use it, according to scientists.

Team tactic: Three killer whales create a huge wave as they head for the seal on the ice floe

Research has also found that the mammals - around 26ft in length and weighing more than six tonnes - carefully butcher the prey underwater, co-operating as they skin and dissect the seals.

Killer wave: The whales have created a wall of water to hit the ice and knock the seal off

Dr Robert Pitman, a marine scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in California, took the stunning images of the pod going in for the kill.

He said: 'The killer whales were very good at knowing in advance if they were going to be able to wash a seal off a floe and they were always successful in getting the seal into the water.

'A couple of times the seal was washed off but managed to escape in the confusion, but not very often. From killer whale studies elsewhere we expected this kind of social interaction but it was the canniness of their hunting tactics that blew us away.'

Hanging on: The seal appears helpless to stop the wave washing it off the ice and into the water

Game over: The seal desperately tries to get back onto the ice, but the killer whales are ready to pounce

source: dailymail