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Exclusive: Scientist captures rare footage of killer whales playing in Antarctica

A scientist has captured incredible footage of a 'killer whale party' near Scott Base in Antarctica.

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The footage is also giving researchers a helpful insight into their diet. Source: 1 NEWS

And while it makes for great watching, the clip is also giving researchers a helpful insight into their diet.

It all unfolded on the Ross Sea, near Scott Base in Antarctica where Dr Regina Eisert was observing 15-20 Type C killer whales playing.

“So they're full, they're happy, the kids are playing, and I went in and I filmed them, and they came over to say hi,” she told 1 NEWS.

The scientist has just returned from her latest expedition to the ice, as part of a long-running monitoring programme.

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Researchers secured support from Antarctica New Zealand to head to the ice. Source: 1 NEWS

She is studying how a marine protected area that bans fishing in part of the Ross Sea is impacting their feeding habits.

The trip was secretly cancelled by Canterbury University last year, only to be reinstated when 1 NEWS got involved.

Dr Eisert is now working independently with this data to add to her long-running efforts to monitor the species.

She believes she's now seen this same pod several years in a row but that's not necessarily a good thing.

“The fact that I keep seeing the same individuals,and can actually derive a population estimate from the re-sighting probability of those individuals, tells me there probably aren't a lot of killer whales,” she says.

It's hoped insights like these will help to protect the fish that these whales rely on for food.