Close encounters with whales.
Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
50Trip End Dec 16, 2008
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Southern Right Whales are about 40-50 feet in length and come to Peninsula Valdez from Antarctica to mate, calf, and raise their young in the calm, "warm", protected waters. They're called "right whales" since they are so curious they come up to boats and were the "right" whales to hunt.
The next day, we took a boat out to see the mothers nursing their calves - and were right next to the boat!
When they nurse, the mother stands on her head with her tail out of the water and the baby floats on the surface to suckle.
One of the main reasons the whales raise their young here is that, for some reason, orcas won`t venture into the bay - and baby whale tongue is an orca delicacy
The orcas will work in a group to separate a baby whale from it`s mother and force the baby to the bottom of the ocean where they hold it down until the whale drowns. The orcas will take turns surfacing to catch a breath while the others pin the baby to the bottom.
Finally, one orca will rip out the tongue and share it with the rest of the pod - but discard the rest of the carcass
There are even historical accounts of orcas helping whaling ships catch whales by shepherding the whales to the ship and slapping their tails to alert the whalers. In return for their help, the whalers gave the orcas the tongue. Look it up on Wikipedia under "Orca" - it´s a fascinating story.
But no one could explain why orcas don't come into the bay.
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