4 min read

Are These Humpback Whales Hiding From Orcas Under A Whale Watching Boat?

<p>National Marine Sanctuaries Fisheries / <a class="checked-link" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/onms/9716688005/in/photolist-fNCyPx-a1ckya-5gJpVV-drMUXA-794JBm-nUYPgu-6tAdc8-a2do73-fBsdv6-8fCUSC-ktBFF-djbofH-nUZJ8v-a2auyz-fFGfj4-fFYPNu-fFGenM-oDkPGu-fFYNN9-g5b4ki-a2nF4Z-df8zsA-fBGWQ5-fFhZ2Q-fFhYUy-fVrmKH-a1TjFG-iFSFaM-fDNmEC-ePyfnt-aAmMp5-aAmN7h-dn8AiX-8SUKcC-5xYyX4-a2qysu-5FnGun-aAiYMz-aAj1F8-fBGx79-a2nEgH-9r67uz-drMUZh-5xYw9v-fCzVfx-6FqfrS-5xYERg-ocahhc-6FcnG3-9gEi6M">Flickr</a></p>

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.

(Doug Davis / YouTube)

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."

(Doug Davis / YouTube)

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: