Whale Watchers See Orcas Fight Mom, Drown Her Baby
In Monterey Bay, battle goes on for 2 hours
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2014 5:00 PM CDT
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(Newser) – Whale watchers witnessed quite a grueling battle this week when a group of twenty orcas attacked a female gray whale and its calf off the California coast, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Like a pack of coyotes, the orcas tried separating the child from its mother—who fought back valiantly for more than two hours. The orcas "came in waves, like attacking swarms of hockey players," said Bart Selby, who photographed the whole fight in Monterey Bay (the Chronicle has eleven pics). When one orca group grew weary, it would move out and orbit "while a new swarm of orcas pressed the attack," he said. The calf tried to survive by hiding behind her mom, hiding her tail on mom's spine, tucking in her flipper, and even lying on top of her.

"We could see a lot of struggling going on," a whale watcher told the Daily News. Finally the orcas grabbed the baby and pulled it under the surface to drown it. "I’ve been around enough to know that nature is cruel, but it was hard to watch," said Selby. At feeding time, the orcas jumped from the water and slapped their tales in apparent celebration—as the mother gray quickly swam off, and gulls dived by the hundreds to feed on remains floating to the surface. Such attacks aren't uncommon, the Chronicle notes—an orca group killed a baby whale and a curious sea lion a few days before. You can see the latest fight on YouTube.

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Showing 3 of 55 comments
May 5, 2014 9:48 PM CDT
Can you imagine getting into a small pool of water with that? I can’t help but sit back and think, “What the hell were WE thinking?” I mean, sure I can sit back and say, “That damn SeaWorld...” but it was a large percentage of US who was keeping that place (and parks like it) open. Yes, even ME. I paid to watch human-beings climb into these small chlorinated pools, stand/sit on the backs of orcas and teach them that they get affection from humans (one of their few lifelong companions) and a lot MORE fish if you perform tricks. Yet, we’re horrified when these animals (1) act out aggressively to one another (including their own calf, which is NOT common in the wild) and (2) massacre a human being (which has NEVER been documented in the wild). That’s insane. Watch the video and tell me, what is SeaWorld thinking trying to get the trainers BACK INTO THE WATER? Then, when their attempts fail – they create “life-vests” to prove they are taking the ‘necessary steps..’. Wow. www.facebook.com/protestseaworldsandiego for information on upcoming protests, news articles and what YOU can do.
Jim Bob
May 5, 2014 12:15 AM CDT
We all understand this is part of nature. I wish people would understand that when a surfer or swimmer is bitten by a great white, it is also part of nature. I swim open ocean in southern California almost every day. Usually just in a pair of trunks and goggles. I was chasing a pod of dolphins on Friday night after work - was about a mile and a half out and all alone. Got to play with the seals on the way back in. Was awesome. If at that or any other moment I was killed by a shark or some ocean critter, I would be deeply offended if some control freak idiot decided to go kill the animal. If I were killed by a drunken boater or jet skier (an infinitely greater risk by every measure) I'd want that dumb bastard to rot in jail for the rest of his life and to pay my estate everything he has. But leave the sharks, orcas, and other sea animals out of it. When I lick my goggles, slip in the water, and start swimming, I'm part of the ocean. That is a beautiful feeling. But I'm also part of the food chain. That is the natural corollary. You can't have the privilege without taking that responsibility as much as some seem to want to. That goes for anyone out there - surfers, kids swimming, divers, fat tourists snorkeling, whatever - when you go in the water, you're part of the food chain. Make a conscious decision and be responsible for it.
Apr 28, 2014 11:15 AM CDT
The coolest thing I have ever seen was two Orca whales "tossing" a baby whale back and forth... and the strangest thing.. the baby whale was "laughing"... a different sound that was "laughter-like". Several of us watched this and I have to say it was one of the most unique things I have ever witnessed...