Just Keep Swimming: An Orca Was Spotted Caring for a Pilot Whale Calf for the First Time
According to a recent study, an orca mother has been spotted caring for a baby pilot whale off the coast of Iceland.
The ocean can be a harsh place—which is why we love a random (and revolutionary) act of kindness.
Where there was initially some uncertainty about whether a female orca had adopted or abducted a pilot whale calf she was spotted swimming alongside off the coast of Iceland, new research confirms that the first-of-its-kind marine life sighting was a heartwarming one.
The Tale of the Mother Orca and the Baby Pilot Whale
The surreal sighting occurred in August 2021, with the orca (whom researchers dubbed Sædís) swimming alongside the pilot calf. This is the first time researchers have documented an orca caring for a baby of another species.
Though the scientists can't be completely sure of the nature of the event, lead author Marie Mrusczok told that the pilot whale's positioning (the "echelon position" behind the orca's pectoral fin) allowed it to be carried in the orca's current.
"That indicates caring because that position, that mother-calf position, is quite energetically taxing for the female killer whale as she pulls that newborn along in her slipstream," another of the study's authors, Elizabeth Zwamborn, told CBC.
Researchers also noted that the orca had never been a mother herself, making adoption a possibility. In these times of warming oceans and disappearing marine life, it's a comfort to see species looking out for one another—and a welcome reminder to do the same.
Featured photo: Orca Guardians Iceland
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