Monday, October 8, 2012

The Orca Survivor

Life can be very brutal especially if you are a new born humpback whale calf.  This little guy was photographed with his/her mum in Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia a few days ago.  Within her first few weeks of life (we will assume its a girl as she is a tough survivor) she has been severely mauled by killer whales (orcas).

The extensive scars and missing blubber bear testament to a near fatal battle for this little one.  Miraculously she has survived and is beginning to heal.  The water would have been filled with blood as the pack of orcas fought to tire and drown here.  The scarring and missing flesh on her fluke show where one orca has held her whilst the others attacked.  Her mum would have been desperately engaged in the battle to save her calf.  

The top two images show the calf's right and left flanks.  The third image show her damaged fluke.  The bottom image show's mum's right flank.  She appears unscathed however there is an abrasion just below her dorsal fin.

Both cow and calf were resting when photographed by Pam Osborn.  Exmouth Gulf is a shallow water resting ground for humpbacks and new season calves.  Whilst Orcas work the outside waters of Ningaloo Reef (a number of calf fatalities have been recorded there in recent years), they don't often enter the waters of the Gulf.

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