When Fins Fly — Face-Off in Salish Sea Between Humpback Whales and Orcas a Sight to Behold

It’s always intense when two apex predators go at it, but it’s seldom caught at sea. In this case, two humpback whales were confronted with a pesky pack of orcas. Now, humpbacks are by no means considered predators, but recent sightings confirm they have interfered with orca hunts. On the other hand, orcas are known for viciously ganging up on whales and taking them down. Regardless, a video captured two months ago in the Salish Sea depicts a tense standoff or confrontation between two humpback whales and about two dozen Biggs orcas known for hunting in packs.

humpback whale
Photo: Pixabay/ArtTower

Whale Watching Excursions

Caught on video by the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA), it’s difficult to make out exactly what’s going on, but there’s a lot of splashing, slapping, and spouting happening during the two-minute video. During the clip, a newscaster interviews one of the witnesses to the encounter and explains to viewers that the two whales are well-known in the whale-watching community. One is known as Hydra, a whale from Hawaii, and the other Reaper, a whale born near Mexico. It’s crazy that they know these things, but they do.

whale watching
Photo: Pixabay/wolfganglucht

Transient Orcas

It’s unclear who harassed whom or which group struck first, but the spat apparently lasted for several hours before the two groups slipped out of sight. It’s anyone’s guess what happened from there. Humpbacks have a reputation for coming to the rescue of sea lions and other aquatic creatures being stalked by orcas. In April, naturalists saw a humpback known as Valiant behaving aggressively toward a group of Biggs orcas. They believe he’d been attacked by some years ago and may still hold a grudge, which is entirely understandable. Overall, these encounters are reportedly rare, according to the PWWA, but could pick up the pace as both groups continue to increase in number due to conservation acts put in place.

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