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Underwater photographer Rainer Schimpf was tracking a Bryde’s whale being hunted by a pod of orcas when he noticed something unusual. A short distance from the other members of the pod was an orca with two missing fins. Due to his disability, this orca was unable to join his pod on the hunt. While we might assume that “killer whales” would abide by the survival of the fittest and leave their disabled family member to fend for himself, this pod showed that they do just the opposite — they help him survive. These are the photographs that Schimpf was able to capture of the disabled orca.

The disabled orca, seen here, is missing his dorsal fin and one pectoral fin. Even though his missing fins make him incapable of hunting, his pod members ensure his survival by feeding him. Orcas are not ruthless like they’re made out to be. They have cognitive abilities that are more advanced than humans, with a sense of self that extends to other members of the pod and a range of complex emotions. It’s only within the small confines of tanks where they are deprived of all their natural abilities that these beautiful creatures turn against each other and humans as well, earning them the moniker of “killer whale.” We will never learn about the true nature of these beautiful creatures if we continue to allow them to be kept in tanks. Only in the wild can we observe startling acts of compassion like the way this disabled orca’s pod takes care of him. In spite of one this orca’s disability, he lives a healthy life thanks to his strong bonds of his pods.

It’s amazing how this orca’s family is able to take care of him, even though he can neither feed himself nor swim as fast as the rest of them. There have only been a few other cases similar to this that have been observed in the wild, but it shows that they have an incredible sense of altruism that we’re still very much unaware of.  After seeing this incredible display of intelligence and compasstion, still think orcas belong in tanks?