An incredible chase scene has been captured on camera in waters off Australia. A lucky Sydney local armed with a hobby drone filmed this pod of false killer whales hunting down a juvenile shark yesterday.

For the shark, which experts were not able to identify, a frantic escape attempt ends in failure as the pod reaches striking range and its leader claims the meal for the group. For Bruno Kataoka, who captured the dramatic footage just south of Sydney, filming the moment a hunter of the seas becomes the hunted was a truly amazing experience.

"We just happened to be there at the right moment, at the right time," he told 7NewsSydney. "I did not expect to see what we saw."

False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) are a rare sight in these waters, so their attention-grabbing arrival in the area is bound to excite enthusiasts and marine scientists alike. "Oh, it's amazing," marine biologist Georgina Wood told 7News, "I love it. That kind of footage is so rare to catch."

Despite their name, these marine mammals are not close relatives of the killer whale (or orca) – but like the latter, they're efficient pack hunters, capable of bringing down a range of large fish species, as well as other marine mammals like dolphins and even whale calves.

And while drone videos like this one are constantly blowing us away, it's important to remember that there are strict regulations in place to ensure the 'copters don't harass marine mammals. For a wild animal, the appearance of a strange, noisy object overhead can be a highly stressful experience (like Minnesota's black bears demonstrated in a recent study). 

Drones can be a handy tool for scientists to monitor marine life and study behaviour, but they aren't quite as non-invasive as you might think, and improper use can inadvertently harm the very animals we're so fascinated by.

Up Close With False Killer Whales Related 2016 05 10


Top header image: lorislferrari, Flickr