Luna is a young, wild killer whale – an orca – who lost contact with his family on the coast of British Columbia and turned up alone in a narrow stretch of sea between mountains, a place called Nootka Sound.
Orcas are social. They live with their families all their lives. An orca who gets separated usually just fades away and dies.
Luna was alone, but he didn’t fade away. There weren’t any familiar orcas in Nootka Sound, but there were people, in boats and on the shore. So he started trying to make contact. And people welcomed him. Most of them.
This contact did not turn out to be simple. It was as if we humans weren’t ready for him.
Inspired by myths, we look into the sky, not the depths, for others who might think and dream like us. We train radio telescopes on the stars, and listen for code in the static of space. But maybe we’re looking in the wrong place. So far, space just crackles, but the sea whistles back. And, in Nootka Sound, it sent us an open-hearted child.
For many years we have been curious about what it will be like when an extraterrestrial appears among us. Will things be chaotic? Will they be exciting? Will they be dangerous? Will there be controversy? How will we recognize this stranger? What will we share? Will this be joyful? Will it be sad? Will it be the best thing that ever happened?
Maybe it will be all those things. Maybe it will be just like what happened when a little lonely whale tried to make friends with us lonely humans in a place called Nootka Sound.
Many species interact in the wild, most often as predator and prey. But recent encounters between humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins reveal a playful side to interspecies interaction.
In two different locations in Hawaii, scientists watched as dolphins “rode” the heads of whales: the whales lifted the dolphins up and out of the water, and then the dolphins slid back down. The two species seemed to cooperate in the activity, and neither displayed signs of aggression or distress.
Whales and dolphins in Hawaiian waters often interact, but playful social activity such as this is extremely rare between species.
The latest Bio Bulletin from the Museum’s Science Bulletins program presents the first recorded examples of this type of behavior. Visitors to AMNH may view the video in the Hall of Biodiversity until February 9, 2012.
A 200-pound man in a kayak has nothing on a 40-ton humpback whale hunting for breakfast, but that’s not stopping dozens of sightseers from getting cozy with a pod that has strayed unusually close to shore near Santa Cruz.
The whale lunge feeding right next to the Kayak, plus some underwater footage, in slow motion!
The full original video can be seen here
Michael Fishbach narrates his encounter with a humpback whale entangled in a fishing net.