Orca whales are awesome…especially when they carve up useless gray whales.
Nature’s truth and tragedy unfolded in a dramatic scene on Monterey Bay last week when a pack of 20 orcas attacked a mother gray whale and its calf.
The fight lasted more than two hours, witnessed and photographed by field scout Bart Selby, and dozens aboard whale watching boats that cruised at top speeds to the periphery of the scene and cut their engines.
Selby, a kayaker, wildlife expert and photographer, heard about the whales and headed straight to Monterey. In 2011, Selby paddled a kayak solo 25 miles from Santa Cruz to Monterey, and two weeks ago, reported sighting a mother gray whale and its calf lounging on the inshore waters at Whaler’s Cove at Pigeon Point near Pescadero.
Selby boarded the Point Sur Clipper with Monterey’s champion whale specialist, Nancy Black, and they quickly found the orcas, more than 20 in all, on the hunt.
Orcas find gray whales
At mid-afternoon, the orcas found a mother gray whale with a calf.
“They came in waves, like attacking swarms of hockey players,” Selby said. “When one group got tired, then the entire line would rotate out and orbit the center ring while a new swarm of orcas pressed the attack.”
Just as a pack of coyotes will try to separate a fawn from its protective mother, the orcas tried to pry the calf away from its mother as well. Read more »