The Boat Is Lifted Out of the Water by the Whale

gray whale in baja 799881

We splurged and bought the Sunday NY Times yesterday. Splurged because it’s all on my iphone, but my parents were visiting and they like that big printed copy. I read a fascinating piece about how whales are so well attuned to other creatures. The focus was different whales of the Baja, and a particularly hardy species called Gray whales. Despite being hunted down to just 1,000 animals, today more than 18,000 are swimming in the seas; this is the best rebound of any whale species.

The most interesting part of the story was a 1972 story of two fishermen in the lagoon between the Baja peninsula and mainland Mexico. A gray whale had been circling two men in a small fishing boat. then ‘at one point she went directly under and lifted the boat out of the water.’ The men were helpless, just waiting for the female whale to let them down. Then she came along side the small boat, and just stayed there, head popping out of the water, eyeing them. He reached out a finger, nervously, then then placed his hand on the big beast’s side.
“As if basking in the feel of a grasp without malice,’ the whale remained there.

Humpback whales have a technique where a group will begin herding prey, such as herring, by using a series of hunting calls, then one whale will dive below and blow out an intense stream of bubbles, pushing the fish to the middle, then the pod rises mouths open, to devour the fish.

Other studies have shown that sperm whales live in elaborately structured social groups, or clans, which are not related, but within each one are smaller, close-knit family units, with at least five separate clan dialects of clicks they make in a “Morse-code pattern.” Other whales have learned to pluck individual cod off of a fisherman’s line: And the big whales are teaching this technique to their young, so the current 5-10% loss of fish to whales will grow higher over time. Fish snatching is here to stay.