Killer whale sighting around Shetland! Busta (032) - the big male - and his family!
My first orca encounter in 2013 was a group of Biggs/Transients (T49B’s and T65A’s) in the Gulf Islands, playing with the remnants of what was likely a harbour porpoise.
A disabled killer whale that is missing two finds is able to survive in the wild with the help of its family, who hunt food its food.
The young killer whale has no dorsal find or right-side pectoral fin, leaving it unable to hunt for itself.
But rather than be left to fend for itself or die, the whale appears to be cared for by members of its pod, which share their food with the youngster.
Underwater photographer Rainer Schimpf came face to face with the pod while the members hunted in waters off Port Elizabeth in South Africa.
He said: ‘Incapable of fast hunting and ambushing prey it has to be dependent on the pod which, one assumes, looks after it very well.
‘It shows these mammals are not really just ruthless killing machines but they also have complex, caring social-structures in which they and care for their own disabled members.’
Mr Schimpf had been tracking the pod of seven as they hunted a Bryde’s whale - measuring 50ft (15m) in length and weighing a massive 15 tonnes.
The next time you think Orcas are satisfied with living in captivity:
Orcas have evolved complex culture: a suite of behaviors animals learn from one another. They communicate with distinctive calls and whistles. They can live 60 years or more, and they stay in tightknit matrilineal groups led by older females that model specific behaviors to younger animals. Scientists have found increasing evidence that culture shapes what and how orcas eat, what they do for fun, even their choice of mates. Culture, says Hal Whitehead of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, “may be very important to them.”
Some of the first evidence of cultural differences among orcas came from studies of vocalizations in whales that frequent the coastal waters of British Columbia and Washington State. Such “residents” belong to four clans, each with multiple groups. While the clans live close together—their ranges even overlap—their vocalizations are as different as Greek and Russian. And smaller groups called pods have dialects akin to a Southern drawl or a clipped New England accent.