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Old 12-04-2010, 12:57   #1
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Orcas Attack Gray in Washington

I went out for a daysail yesterday from my marina at Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. Not long after putting up the sails I saw a strange black triangle off the port side. Then it spouted and dove. It was a large male orca! Really caught me by surprise they are very rarely seen in Saratoga Passage. We watched it for about ten minutes and then it disappeared. We tacked and headed out to the middle of the Passage. Next thing I know there were three orcas right in front of us. Two females (I think) and a baby. We sailed along with them tacking back and forth for about an hour. They seemed to hang close to us, milling about and tail slapping. When they dove under the boat the fishfinder went crazy!!! : )

Turns out they were transients and had attacked a grey whale a couple hours earlier. There seems to be odd behavior with orcas attacking adult greys. This is not the first incident. Actually, I am glad I missed the attack.

More info on the incident:
Transients; Grays;Transient attack on Gray; 2 more dead Grays; Hawaii Research

News video of the attack:
Orcas attack gray whale near Whidbey Island | KING5.com | Seattle Area Local News
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Old 12-04-2010, 13:29   #2
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Interesting stuff...thanks.
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Old 12-04-2010, 13:42   #3
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There are now three greys which are dead. Do you think this is a territorial thing? I would not want to be around a pod with calves...They may be defending their young.
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Old 12-04-2010, 14:11   #4
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Seems so unusual! What a privilege to see the Orcas though!
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Old 12-04-2010, 14:14   #5
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Can't they all just get along?
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Old 12-04-2010, 14:33   #6
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growing trend

Orca predation on grays is an increasing phenomenon, and has been reported in Russia as well as the US west coast. Some people think this is being driven by a lack of other food sources for orca, but I find this curious given explosions of pinniped populations in recent years, especially among sea lions, and a corresponding decline in shark populations, since sharks would be the orca's major competition for food.

A group called the California Gray Whale Coalition his organized around this phenomenon, but I find them to be comprised of more Hollywood types than science types. Still...
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Old 12-04-2010, 18:14   #7
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Maybe this is one of the reasons they are called Killer Whales. The transients are the only ones that hunt and eat seals. Maybe they are the more aggressive pod andcan be compared with some members of the human race. lol
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Old 13-04-2010, 05:07   #8
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Maybe this has to do with the interruption of the ecosystem by decimating the shark population. Just a wild hair.
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Old 13-04-2010, 09:22   #9
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The experts are looking into these attacks. Seems it is common for the transients (meanies of the whale world) to attack greys in california and mexico when the calves are young and the whales are more vulnerable, but up here it has been rare. The grey who was bullied (teaching young to hunt was one explanation given) Sunday is a yearly visitor named Patch. S/he is alive and has been spotted with another grey, but the transient pod is still around. There is also some controversy up here because the captain of the whale watch boat went near the grey after the attack. He positioned his boat between the grey and two other orcas that approached. Folks are all up in arms because the captain's act of kindness and concern was a violation of law--seen as interfering. I probably would have done the same if I were in his position.
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