A team of scientists witnessed a spine-chilling event while they were out whale watching off the coast of Vancouver. They were shocked to witness an orca infant killing started by a male killer whale, while the mother fought to protect her calf. Soon after the event took place, they decided to find the reason behind such a cruel act, and assumed the whale must have done it for mating.
A vicious male killer whale was the author of an orca infant killing
In December 2016, the scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada were witnesses of a truly shocking event. Near the end of the day, as they were getting ready to abandon their researches, they heard a lot of noise.
They rushed to the water to see what was happening, and discovered the baby orca they were watching earlier was no longer there. Soon afterwards, they realized they were witnesses of an orca infant killing. A male killer whale appeared, as it was dragging the baby between its teeth, while the mother was struggling to protect it without success.
The calf was probably only a few days old. Researchers had reached this conclusion after taking a close look at its features. These include the undeveloped dorsal fins or the fetal folds that were still attached to its body. This was the first time when they witnessed an orca infant killing, so researchers decided to spend some time to study the murder place.
The purpose of this act was sexual
To identify the motivation of the male orca, they started looking for similar behaviors in other mammals. Usually, rodents or primates practice this, but it might happen among dolphins as well. This is how they decided the orca infant killing had a sexual purpose. Once the calf is dead, the male gives the chance to the mother to reproduce again.
However, this orca infant killing instance was pretty interesting. The mother fought to protect her baby until he seriously injured the vicious killer. Unfortunately, he kept the calf between his teeth until the end, so the mother couldn’t save it. She gave up in the end, but gave almost everything to protect it.
The report on this shocking event has been published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
Image source: Flickr