It is horrifying to see an innocent life being killed. Much like a recent moment when researchers were left in distress as they witnessed a male orca drowning a baby killer whale, so it could mate with its mother. Yes, the incident has been documented by scientists in the Canadian province of British Columbia who were present at the moment and it is believed to be the first reported case of an orca whale killing an infant of the same species. As per CBC News, the event took place off the coast of Vancouver Island on December 2, 2016 but has only recently been published in Scientific Reports.
As soon as the scientists realised that they were seeing something rare, they went into the autopilot to gather as much data and recordings as they could.
This is what has happened!
Off the coast, a 28-year-old female killer whale was swimming with her calf. The younger orca was small, and it was likely to be only a day old. The 28-year-old was travelling with two other daughters who were five and eight years old respectively. A 32-year-old male was steadily heading toward the group with his mother who was 46-year-old. It was only then when a nearby research station named OrcaLab picked up strange calls with the help of an underwater microphone and a trio of scientists went to investigate. They noticed sudden and erratic splashing break out. Soon the whales began to circle the calf. The male grabbed the infant by its fluke and dragged it away from its mother. Meanwhile, the male’s own mother was blocking the calf’s mother, preventing it from rescuing the new-born.
Watch the video
Mother-Son Orca Pair Commits Infanticide
Researches revealed that infanticide or killing infants has been observed in terrestrial species like monkeys and rodents, but the only marine mammal species known to commit such behaviour are dolphins. But the recent study suspects the male attacked the calf so that it could mate with the 28-year-old female. This leads to the first account of infanticide reported in killer whales and also the only case committed jointly by an adult male and his mother. The Canadian Scientists noted that the mother-son orca relationships are quite strong, and mothers tend to help their adult sons. Some even believe that mother whales help them to pick their mates.
Scientists are also arguing over the belief that female killer whales are selective with respect to males. Yes, orcas are vicious. But such incidents are miserable and terrifying.