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Humpback whales around the globe are mysteriously rescuing animals from orcas

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posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 02:48 AM
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Perhaps the most stunning aspect of this behavior is that it's not just a few isolated incidents. Humpback whale rescue teams have been witnessed foiling killer whale hunts from Antarctica to the North Pacific. It's as if humpback whales everywhere are saying to killer whales: pick on someone your own size! It seems to be a global effort; an inherent feature of humpback whale behavior.

After witnessing one of these events himself back in 2009, Pitman was compelled to investigate further. He began collecting accounts of humpback whales interacting with orcas, and found nothing short of 115 documented interactions, reported by 54 different observers between 1951 and 2012. The details of this surprising survey can be found in the journal Marine Mammal Science.


Source


To investigate why, we reviewed accounts of 115 interactions between them. Humpbacks initiated the majority of interactions (57% vs. 43%; n = 72), although the killer whales were almost exclusively mammal-eating forms (MEKWs, 95%) vs. fish-eaters (5%; n = 108). When MEKWs approached humpbacks (n = 27), they attacked 85% of the time and targeted only calves. When humpbacks approached killer whales (n = 41), 93% were MEKWs, and ≥87% of them were attacking or feeding on prey at the time. When humpbacks interacted with attacking MEKWs, 11% of the prey were humpbacks and 89% comprised 10 other species, including three cetaceans, six pinnipeds, and one teleost fish. Approaching humpbacks often harassed attacking MEKWs (≥55% of 56 interactions), regardless of the prey species, which we argue was mobbing behavior. Humpback mobbing sometimes allowed MEKW prey, including nonhumpbacks, to escape.


The Study

I saw this once on a cruise. We set off to do some whale watching and ended up getting a "splash show" as the humpbacks appeared and chased away some Orcas from some seals. I never knew it went this deep or that they were responding to actions of the Orcas.

Whales are even more amazing than I initially thought.




posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 02:56 AM
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a reply to: thesungod

Some kind of natural, genetic rivalry perhaps??? Will humpback do the same to sharks??



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 02:59 AM
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a reply to: thesungod

There are many animal wars going on that we don't really see.
Bees v wasps (bee)
Cat v Dog (cat)
Herring v Mackerel (Herring)
and many more you have to pick a side so I will go on the whale side now but now the Orcas will know I'm the enemy.
Just goes to show OP that these amazing animals have a heart and a code and therefore in some way morals
.



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 03:02 AM
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a reply to: AmericanRealist

I've heard that Orca kill sharks...I've also heard that Orca are one of the few animals (besides us) that kill for fun. Maybe that's why the other whales police them!



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 03:03 AM
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a reply to: AmericanRealist

I have no idea. We weren't even sure until a few years ago that sharks routinely attacked Humpback at all.

We caught it on film for the first time in 2015.



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 03:06 AM
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a reply to: thesungod

The 'rescuing' thing seems too anthropomorphic! It suggests the humpbacks view the orcas as 'wrong' and the prey as 'victims' to be 'saved.'

Animals is animals. It'll be food-related like the orcas have an impact on the food stocks preferred by the whales.

I'm reminded of the way lions constantly kill cheetah cubs. It isn't like the cheetah presents an existential threat to a pride of lions. Instead there's some in-built need to mark territory, restrict rivals and reduce populations of the competition.



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 03:13 AM
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a reply to: Kandinsky

Agreed.

They aren't saving fish though, only other mammals. If you read the study they believe that the whales are acting because they hear the songs of the Mammal Eating Killer Whales.

ETA: How do they know to go when that song is playing and not another?
edit on 1-8-2016 by thesungod because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 03:13 AM
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a reply to: thesungod

Poor sharks even dolphins beat up on them and have been known to save people from sharks. If I had to guess whales and dolphins actually can tell the difference between mamals and fish.
edit on 8/1/16 by dragonridr because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 03:16 AM
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Because the orcas target humpback calves.. They are a natural predator. It's only natural the adults will attack.



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 03:33 AM
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a reply to: Misterlondon

They don't always. They don't roll on Orcas eating fish for example. If it was blanket behavior they'd always do this.

Instead they are only targetting Mammal eating killer whales. Which is strange.



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 04:16 AM
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Like any hunter, killer whales are quiet when stalking and killing. Not sure if this is being contrived, there are surely lots of encounters between killer whales and Humpbacks because the killer whales target the young.

If it carries any further to protecting other species that probably is also mirrored on African Plains. Elephants behave the same way around lions, they know what time is when lions are around.



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 04:18 AM
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a reply to: intrptr

Link to study on this behavior from Elephants?



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 04:33 AM
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a reply to: thesungod

Nature videos. You've never seen how elephants won't tolerate lions on Nat Geo or Animal Planet? How other animals like baboons and birds sound alarms when lions come around? Antelopes and other grazers stomp their feet as a warning.

Cape buffalo, Hippos and Rhinos also protect against predators including crocodiles.

Its easier to see on land, the ocean is a lot more vast. Whats happening underneath the surface is also harder to spot. Whales know killer whales are predators and act to drive them off if they can.



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 04:40 AM
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a reply to: intrptr

So speculation, no study or proof of elephants going out of the way to save other mammals from lions.

These humpbacks are ony targetting mammal eating killer whales. That'd be like elephants only targetting lions that eat elephants and say hippos. They almost completely ignore them where fish are concerned. Explain that one away?



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 04:42 AM
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originally posted by: thesungod

Perhaps the most stunning aspect of this behavior is that it's not just a few isolated incidents. Humpback whale rescue teams have been witnessed foiling killer whale hunts from Antarctica to the North Pacific. It's as if humpback whales everywhere are saying to killer whales: pick on someone your own size! It seems to be a global effort; an inherent feature of humpback whale behavior.

After witnessing one of these events himself back in 2009, Pitman was compelled to investigate further. He began collecting accounts of humpback whales interacting with orcas, and found nothing short of 115 documented interactions, reported by 54 different observers between 1951 and 2012. The details of this surprising survey can be found in the journal Marine Mammal Science.


Source


To investigate why, we reviewed accounts of 115 interactions between them. Humpbacks initiated the majority of interactions (57% vs. 43%; n = 72), although the killer whales were almost exclusively mammal-eating forms (MEKWs, 95%) vs. fish-eaters (5%; n = 108). When MEKWs approached humpbacks (n = 27), they attacked 85% of the time and targeted only calves. When humpbacks approached killer whales (n = 41), 93% were MEKWs, and ≥87% of them were attacking or feeding on prey at the time. When humpbacks interacted with attacking MEKWs, 11% of the prey were humpbacks and 89% comprised 10 other species, including three cetaceans, six pinnipeds, and one teleost fish. Approaching humpbacks often harassed attacking MEKWs (≥55% of 56 interactions), regardless of the prey species, which we argue was mobbing behavior. Humpback mobbing sometimes allowed MEKW prey, including nonhumpbacks, to escape.


The Study

I saw this once on a cruise. We set off to do some whale watching and ended up getting a "splash show" as the humpbacks appeared and chased away some Orcas from some seals. I never knew it went this deep or that they were responding to actions of the Orcas.

Whales are even more amazing than I initially thought.


Well, they have big brains. Perhaps we aren't the apex lifeform on the planet and the whales are the ones 'tending the garden'?



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 04:53 AM
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a reply to: chr0naut

Bwahahaha!





posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 05:40 AM
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Killer whales are an apex predator and eat dolphins and porpoises, as well as the smaller whales etc. Orcas are a threat to young humpback whales.

I would have thought that this was natural survival behaviour for humpbacks to remove a threat where found.



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 05:45 AM
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originally posted by: thesungod
a reply to: chr0naut

Bwahahaha!




Actually, octopi have brains that spread through their bodies (2/3rds of their brain by mass is in their tentacles and the tentacles seem to be able to process and respond independently of their head).

Octopi are also highly intelligent, able to solve mazes and to recognise shapes and colours. Some are known to move their arms to mimc other fish to lure their prey.

Octopuses have been known to board fishing boats and open doors, holds and hatches to eat their prey of crabs and fish.

They also use tools and have been seen to use coconut shells, shaping them to use as 'armour' or shelter and can navigate out of the water if need be.

In Germany at the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, an octopus called Otto has shown it can unscrew capped containers, has thrown stones to break the glass and escape its tank and has even squirted a stream of water at overhead lights to short out the power.

They can also use colour changes to communicate and have demonstrated sending different messges simultaneously to its tank mates on opposite sides of its body.

In terms of brain mass to body mass, octopi are the brainiest of all invertebrates.

If ever there was an 'alien' creature on Earth, it'd have to be a Cephalapod.



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 06:21 AM
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a reply to: paraphi

Me too and yet we haven't seen this behavior from humpbacks against sharks. If it was blanket behavior they'd be doing it to fish eating orcas as well. Much like elephants that get riled up by lions nearby, but also cheetahs and jaguars. The humpbacks are being selective.
edit on 1-8-2016 by thesungod because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 1 2016 @ 06:37 AM
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a reply to: thesungod

Different "types" of killer whales sound different, so your average humpback will diffrentiate. Sharks don't make a noise, so difficult for humpbacks to do anything about them.



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