UNUSUAL WHALE STORY
One of the most unusual stories about whales is told this week by the Whale Watch Western Australia group who saw what they reported as “a strange encounter” in which a pod of Orcas freed a Humpback whale from a rope that was entangling its tail. It was the first observed interaction between Orcas and a Humpback in Bremer Bay in the Western Australian summertime, which it is there at present. No similar incident is on record. Orcas have attacked and killed Humpbacks. The group is uncertain why this is “strange encounter” happened. “It isn’t clear why the Orcas approached the Humpback it in the first place. We initially thought they might attack the hobbled Humpback. We have witnessed Orcas brutally attack Humpbacks. As pack hunters, they can take down prey much larger than themselves, though they typically target Humpback calves and yearlings rather than full-grown adults. When attacking, Orcas try to grab the whales’ flippers, turn them over and drown them.”.
According to the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Humpbacks are normally seen off the Australian coast between June and August, during northward migration to breeding grounds in subtropical waters and between September and November, when they head back south to Antarctica.Seeing the Humpback in Bremer Bay in January was a surprise. “It was in bad shape, scrawny and a snarl of rope was tangled around its tail, so it seemed certain that it would be easy pickings for the Orcas. “It’s not clear why they didn’t attack the Humpback,.” says Australian Whale Watch Western. “Two approached and the whale began to defend itself. Then a third Orca cleared a large chunk of rope and the Humpback was left free to swim away and the Orcas swam off in a different direction. It was incredible to see. Orcas have complex social lives and well-developed brains. Our observation makes clear how challenging it can be to understand the perceptions and motivations of marine mammals.”
There is more about this unusual incident on Live Science website. There is video on You Tube at: https://youtu.be/g7WVl9QBLs0
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