One of the great privileges and delights of our adventure is when we’ve encountered whales. All the ones we’ve been near have seemed intelligent and gentle. So when we saw this stunning video showing a humpback whale giving a seal a ride on its chest to shelter it from attacking orcas, it amazed us, but it didn’t surprise us.
This second video shows humpback whales trying to intervene to stop orcas ( killer whales) from attacking a calf (baby) grey whale.
Unfortunately, the humpbacks were unsuccessful in keeping the calf from being killed by the orcas. After the orcas had killed the calf, the two humpback whales who tried to intervene were joined by a dozen more of their species. This larger pod of humpback whales surrounded the dead calf and prevented the orcas from eating her. They made loud noises and slashed the water with their tails whenever the orcas came near.
And they maintained their vigil over the dead calf for over six hours, even ignoring the large temptation of krill (humpback’s favorite meal) that swam within easy reach nearby.
Had they called to them to come? What compelled them to continue to stand guard over this poor, dead baby whale?
We’ve heard that these are not isolated instances. Has anyone heard of other interventions between humpbacks and orcas? We’d love you to share them with all of us in a comment.
The calf that had been killed wasn’t even a humpback – it was a grey whale. We’ve been told by zoologists that it’s extremely rare to see an animal risk its own wellbeing and expend a lot of energy to protect an animal from a different species.
Robert Pitman caught this incredible image of a humpback letting a seal ride on his back to escape nearby orcas who wanted the seal to be their next meal.
Doesn’t it make you curious – why do the humpbacks go to such lengths to care who the orca is going after to eat? Orcas are well known to attack Humpback calves, so maybe this is instinct to rescue ingrained behavior against a known enemy. Maybe the humpbacks who initiated this rescue were attacked by orcas when they were calves and it was personal history that motivated such passionate defense of this little calf. Or are the humpbacks just a very special, social creature?