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Footage featured in the new National Geographic show Animals Up Close shows two humpback whales appearing to attempt to save a seal being hunted by a pod of orcas. The scene, shot off of Adelaide Island, Antarctica, features a pod of orcas from a subspecies called B1. These orcas have developed a unique and clever hunting strategy. They generate waves to knock seals off of ice floes and into the ocean. Then, the orca pod can hunt their prey.
Source: National Geographic/YouTube
In the video, the orca pod can be seen using their strategy to hunt a Weddell seal. After the seal was forced from the ice into the sea, the orca pod began pursuing it. Several minutes after they began their hunt, two humpback whales swam over to the pod. The humpback whales swam directly into the orca pod while trumpeting. Trumpeting refers to a loud noise that humpback whales are known to make. Although the whales were unable to prevent the orcas from killing the seal, the amazing sight has offered an unusual insight into interactions between humpback whales and orcas.
Humpback whales have been documented fighting with orcas around the world. The whales use their superior size, large tails, and knobbed pectoral fins to hit and scratch the orcas. Since orcas may prey on humpback whale calves, the whales may attempt to disrupt their hunting. Many other instances of humpbacks disrupting orca hunts, even when they were not preying on humpback calves, have been recorded. Scientists also believe that the pair may have been warning the orcas that the whales were aware of their presence to deter them from attempting a surprise attack.
Despite the mystery surrounding the reason for the humpbacks’ actions, it offers a potential insight into the lives of these creatures. Additionally, it allows viewers to witness the clever hunting strategies of B1 orca pods. Animals Up Close is streaming on Disney+.
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