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Orcas and Gray Whales
Feeding and Survival

Orcas in the Neighborhood
Orcas are sometimes called killer whales, but they are really in the dolphin family.

Did you know
that orcas very smart, playful, and easy to train? That's why they are often stars of theme parks, such as Sea World!
Photo: Mike Hawe

On Wednesday, we leave the harbor and head west along the coast looking for Gray whales. [Captain Mat] lets us all know that he is seeing splashing a mile away from another whale and will head in that direction. Anthony turns to Mat to tell him he sees big dorsal fins. . . .

Mat slowly moves from the boat over to the splashing. Captain Mat informs the passengers that we do in fact have Orcas [called killer whales] attacking a Gray whale cow and her calf. . . .

Mat lets the passengers know that he wishes he could get involved, possibly move the boat in a position that might block the killer whales from continuing their attack. "I absolutely cannot do that," explains Mat. "Number one, it's against the law for me to get involved. Number two, it would be like being in the Serengeti [in Africa], watching lions attacking a zebra and trying to block them with your jeep — you just don't do it."

Mom was trying with all of her might to protect her baby and baby was exhausted. . . . The Orcas would swim away and then come back for the "drowning" over and over again. Baby was straddled across moms rostrum as she pushed her calf away from the Killer whales.

Just then, the Orcas swam to the outside as if to take a break. Mom took advantage of this and waited for baby to get into position. Slowly she headed straight for the boat, slowly gaining speed. I thought she would stop and use us for protection . . . Instead, she exhaled, sending a spray of water on us and our cameras, and swam underneath the boat. We all ran to the port side and saw mom give two big pumps of her tail and disappear into darker water. Shortly after this we saw all four killer whales following behind. . . .

We don't know for sure what happened to this cow and her calf, maybe they got away, maybe not.

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