Pod of orcas frees a humpback whale from certain death. Was it intentional?

Orignally published on 2022-01-21 12:00:00 by

In a strange encounter off the coast of western Australia, a pod of orcas seems to free a humpback whale from a rope entangling its tail. But were they really trying to rescue it?

It isn’t clear whether the orcas (Orcinus orca) were trying to manipulate the rope or why they approached the humpback in the first place. Observers with Whale Watch Western Australia who caught part of the interaction on drone video initially thought the orcas might attack the hobbled humpback. Whale watchers have witnessed orcas brutally attack humpbacks before. As pack hunters, orcas can take down prey much larger than themselves, though they typically target humpback calves and yearlings rather than full-grown adults. When attacking whales, orcas often try to grab the whales’ flippers, turn them over, and hold them under in order to drown them.

Orignally published on 2022-01-21 12:00:00 by

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