Featured Image Credit: ©Steve Hinczynski
Whales are beautiful creatures that can take a variety of forms. From the large baleen whales to smaller toothed whales, many of us love them in any form. However, interactions between different whale species are not always enjoyable. In fact, many of the encounters are violent. This is especially true for interactions between humpback and killer whales.
Humpback whales participate in an annual migration towards tropical waters each year. Typically they give birth here and then head back into colder waters to feed. Along the way, they encounter killer whale pods that viciously attack them. The killer whales are attempting to kill the newborn calves. Sometimes the orcas win, other times the humpback whale calf manages to get away with the scars to show.
Researchers spent several years analyzing over 3,000 humpback whale tails and flukes to better understand this species interaction. According to Juan Capella, the leader researcher, “Because the chances of observing rake marks on young, vulnerable whales increased in the last 20 years, we think that killer whale attacks on humpback whales may be more common now than they were in the past, perhaps due to the recovery of whale breeding stocks in the Southeast Pacific after hunting was prohibited.”
Based on the study, it appears that humpback whales are attacked on their first journey to colder waters. However, after that first year, the orcas seem to leave them alone.
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