Why Did A Humpback Whale Just Save This Seal’s Life?
(Click to enlarge) A humpback whale mother and calf swim in the sapphire water around Maui. Males of this species are famous for their songs. (Credit: Wolcott Henry, National Geographic Creative)
At first it seemed like the usual, deviously clever attack. Several killer whales were trying to catch a Weddell seal that had taken refuge atop a drifting patch of Antarctic ice. The orcas swam alongside each other, creating a wave that knocked the hapless pinniped into the water. Death seemed certain.
(From Science Magazine / by Erik Stokstad)– Then something amazing happened: A pair of humpback whales turned up. As the panicked seal swam toward them, a lucky wave tossed it onto the chest of the closer, upturned whale. The whale arched its chest out of the water, which kept the seal away from the charging killer whales. And when the seal started to fall off, the whale carefully pushed it back onto its chest with a flipper. Soon after that, the seal scrambled to safety on another ice floe.
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