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A boat tour operator has captured a set of incredible images that show the moment a killer whale flipped a seal potentially as high as 40 feet into the air with its tail.
Andrew Lees, 51, took the photos near Sidney Island, British Columbia, Canada.
He spotted the male Bigg's orca swimming in the water on 16 August but wasn't expecting to catch what he did.
Originally from Rochdale in Greater Manchester, Lees has owned his company Five Star Whale Watching since 2017 and was out with a group of customers when he came across the creature.
While it was showing off to its audience, performing flips into the water, the orca somehow managed to fling an unlucky seal high into the air.
It crashed down into the ocean, with two other whales arriving to feed off it.
Speaking of his once-in-a-lifetime experience, Andrew said: "It was truly breathtaking. Everyone on board was astonished by what we'd seen, including myself.
"Never have I captured something like this on camera before. I have been involved in whale watching since 2005 but have seen an orca do this to a seal or porpoise only a handful of times.
"It's not often we see them doing it with the tail like that. It happens but that's definitely one of those rarer activities we see out there.
"It was an unbelievable sight and showed the power and skill of these apex predators.
"The son and mum had been hunting seals near the rocks and kelp so we stopped. Then we noticed he turned upside down and all of a sudden I saw the tail fly up and I saw the seal mid-air.
"It was the height that the seal caught that particular day and the way the male had gone on his back to do it, which really struck me."
Speaking to Vancouver Sun, Jackie Hildering, a director at the Marine Education and Research Society in Port McNeill, explained the whale's behaviour is not uncommon.
She told the news outlet: "It's usually younger members of the population will do things like hit birds with their tails at the surface, little diving birds, and then suck them in as well as spit them back out."
She also said killer whales are known to carry bits of seal around with them.
But she warned that this doesn't make them dangerous - despite their name.
Hildering added: "There is no good or bad in nature. There's just wild, and so this should have no judgment to it, because that ends up pushing the idea that these are somehow bad whales, which has made us make horrible mistakes in the past."
Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News
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