Humpback survives Killer Whale attack | Today we met an incredible Humpback who has survived a Killer Whale attack during the northern migration. Approaching a pod who was resting in the shallows close to shore we watched as one individual began to pec slap. Continuing pec slap after pec slap we didn’t notice anything unusual to start, except for the faint oil slick on the surface and a dozen or so Wilson Storm Petrels which caught our interest. Once this whale righted himself we could see why the oil slick had been trailing, this Humpback had a large injury where his dorsal fin should be. Looking carefully we noticed the teeth rake marks that belong to the Humpbacks main predator… Killer Whales (Orca). During the northern migration this young Humpback has survived a serious attack from Orca who have tried to damage his spinal cord and in the process damaged his dorsal fin and backbone. Incredibly, this whale managed to escape and is now taking shelter in the protection of Flinders Bay as the slow process begins for this wound to heal. The pec slapping continued and he seemed content as he called out to find a friend, the whale who was hanging around seemed to disperse after a short time. It is hard to find a friend when you are trailing a consistent oil slick which can easily attract predators like sharks.
This didn’t stop the pec slapping though and he slowly swam towards us providing the perfect opportunity to observe his wound sight and watch the protective blubber get to work in the healing process. To learn more about this incredible healing process please see this research blog here based on the story of a Bottlenose Dolphin who survived a shark attack last season. Our morning and afternoon tours were filled with many Humpbacks moving through Flinders Bay, socialising with dolphins and enjoying the rhythm of the migration. We will continue to keep an eye on our new friend who will hopefully stay close to Flinders Bay for the next little while until his wound heals further and he regains some more strength through this area. Humpbacks are incredibly resilient and even today this Humpback wanted to approach and socialise with us in between his searching for a mate to help keep him company and keep a protective eye out for each other. Rest is most important for this young Humpback and he has found a perfect place with sheltered, shallow conditions and many Humpbacks moving through the area to keep would be predators on alert, we will be sure to keep a protective eye out for this brave Humpback too.