Baja Baby Gray Whale Survives Killer Whale Attack
The calf is alive because of its mother, which ferociously defended her newborn in front of awed spectators. The spectacle, which occurred Wednesday in waters bordering the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, was witnessed by passengers aboard the Ranger 85 out of Channel Islands Whale Watching in Oxnard, Calif.
The gray whales were extremely fortunate that there were only two young transient killer whales, or orcas, involved in the attack. The oldest is a male about 13 years old, and its sibling, of undetermined sex, is about 7.
Transient killer whales prey predominantly on marine mammals and will often target gray whale calves during the northbound migration from Baja California nursing grounds to Arctic home waters, after the calves have spent a few months fattening up.