Humpback whales sure love ruining orcas' hunting

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But why do they do it?

good question…


This sort of thing gives me hope for Mother Earth. Humans, not so much.


Or maybe the whales are trying to manage the ecosystem.


Killer whales are dicks and every single creature of the sea knows it.

I like that they followed the killers around for like 6 hours disrupting their hunt. “Hey! Everybody! These guys are a bunch of assholes! Run away!”

Killer whales giving the humbacks side-eye.

Humpbacks like


Next thing you know, the humpbacks will learn to play bagpipes…


A whale of a question.


Come, come, sir. Few creatures see themselves as evil.

From killie’s pov, the humpbacks were clearly aware they were being filmed and were just grandstanding.


You’re missing the bit after the orcas leave, when the humpbacks shake down the prey (“Boy, that was a close one. Good thing we just happened to be nearby. It sure would be a pity if we weren’t around next time…”).


I was thinking pretty much the same thing.

Humpback whales: “Because they’re the heroes the oceans need, but not the ones that they deserve right now”


Face it, there’s not much to do out in the ocean, the whole swimming and diving thing gets old pretty quickly, gotta find some other hobby to fill the time in between eating and mating.


The existence of psychopath cetaceans gives you hope?

The orcas killed the the grey whale’s only child and the humpbacks exacted cold revenge by interrupting the orcas’ next meal. Yes, devastating payback.

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Good answer.


However, if the net effect for mobbing humpbacks was an increase in
their individual or inclusive fitness through kin selection or
reciprocity, then this behavior could persist even if it inadvertently
benefitted other species sometimes.

So, their hypothesis is: the whales may be protecting the prey species to impress, or form empathy with, potential mates? white-knighting via a third-party species?


The “adaptive fitness” argument seems pretty straighforward.

These are both free-ranging pelagic species with massive ranges.

Orca’s gotta eat, frequently and bigly. If Shamu doesn’t find it here, he’ll go somewhere else soon enough. Because he has to. and can. and will. The Humpbacks, on the other hand, don’t need to eat as regularly. Most of the time they are living off fat reserves. But the Orcas are a problem – they actually can hurt a Humpback, especially any children.

When an orca appears, a humpback’s response seems pretty clear: annoy the hell out of these peksy sea wolves until the interlopers move on. Shouldn’t take long [*]. And it’s probably hella entertaining for a species that appears to have a high play drive

[*] By whale standards. You just know baleen whales groove on Tarkovsky movies.


The whales intervening is crazy, but even more amazing are the primates who created a floating craft and a device for capturing moving images recording the exchange. :slight_smile: Why do they do it?


The orcas killed the grey whale’s calf, not the humpback’s. The humpbacks were attempting to protect the grey, which is what makes this notable.


Actually, IMHO what is interesting is NOT that the “protectiveness” behavior in humpbacks sometimes has a broad enough trigger that they protect non-humpbacks. The interesting thing is that we are so often fascinated by non-same-species protective or nurturing behavior in any species other than ourselves. Keeping pets in part to elicit that behavior in ourselves is quite common. So why are people so surprised to see that sort of behavior in other species. Nurturing behavior is not unique to humans. And non-humans can elicit nurturing behaviors in humans. Indeed domesticate animals have evolved to elicit it. (neotony) So whey are we so amazed when other nurturing behaviors cross species lines?

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