Are These Humpback Whales Hiding From Orcas Under A Whale Watching Boat?
A fascinating video showing a pair of humpbacks listing around a whale watching boat in the waters off Vancouver is making its way around the internet, supposedly showing a rare example of the massive whales seeking shelter under the boat.
Canada's Global News ran the video with the headline "WATCH: 2 humpback whales hide from orcas next to whale watching boat."According to the story, two orcas were spotted near a pod of humpbacks. While many of the humpbacks soon left the area, two stayed around the whale watching boat for nearly an hour, supposedly "hiding" from the orcas.
But with what we know about orca and humpback interactions, could this really be true? As it turns out, it's really not likely that the humpbacks are being chased - but the real story is even better. According to Dr. Phil Clapham, a leading humpback whale researcher at NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory, this behavior isn't so unusual after all.
"These are just two curious humpbacks who were interested in a boat - it happens all the time in various places," he told The Dodo. "And I have no doubt that the other whales didn't 'leave the area'... they just moved on, or the boat didn't see them again."
Like many other species, curiosity comes naturally to humpback whales, Clapham said.
"These whales are exhibiting typical curious behavior, with a relaxed and easy respiration rate. I doubt they gave a thought to the killer whales, which may not even have been the mammal-eating type, and anyway don't go after adult humpbacks."
This may not have been an example of all-out orca-humpback war, but interaction between the two species isn't unheard of. One interesting example last month showed what appeared to be a group of humpbacks "mobbing" a pod of orcas - though it's not actually clear that the humpbacks were intending to "drive off" the killer whales. Either way, it's a startling incident: