2 weeks ago
Let’s have a little fun, shall we?
We’ve stopped counting how many times our naturalists have had to defend the childish behaviour of the orca whales of British Columbia’s Georgia Strait and Salish Sea.
Just like kids above the surface of the water, adolescent orca whales often find themselves in some sort of mischief. Whether they’re play-fighting over a rubbery band of kelp or slapping their fins to splash each other, orca whales know the meaning of teasing as good or better than any toddler.
Actually, scratch that – the mischief doesn’t stop with the adolescents. Nope, orca whales young and old like to enjoy themselves, and if a curious passerby on a speedy zodiac whale watching tour happens to get a little wet, well that’s not going to prevent these animals from having a little fun.
In fact, some of our favourite orcas of JPod are famous for their tendency to engage in a little friendly tomfoolery. Sorry, not famous.
Let’s start with a fairly innocent example, the newly crowned oldest female in J-Pod since our dear old Granny passed away earlier this year. Born in 1933, Spieden is just like that quirky grandmother who liked to pull your leg when you were a little kid. Part of what makes her infamous is the wheezy-sounding whistle that indicates she’s nearby. At first our naturalists were worried she might be having trouble breathing, but the noise is harmless. These days it’s pretty obvious her old age isn’t going to keep her from striking up a conversation even if it’s a little aggravating.
I promise this isn’t a list directly comparing annoying habits with motherly-like figures; but it seems to be unfolding in exactly that manner right now.
Tahlequah is another resident orca of JPod that’s popular from the passengers on the boat, but this isn’t always the case under the water.
You see, Tahlequah might have become a first time mother in 2010 when she gave birth to Notch, but she’s had plenty of practice helping her mother Princess Angeline with her sister Polaris, who also has a calf of her own. These ladies are often heard talking and chattering with each other as they coast through the water scolding their calves and telling them what to do. It’s a distinct way to announce their presence (even when they don’t mean to do so!)
Cookie is a mischievous young male orca who reminds me a lot of the days of my youth spent chasing after my older siblings. Cookie is often spotted frolicking about in the water, breaching and splashing about, but we know he’s around for sure when we see him pestering his older brother Double Stuf and his cousin Rhapsody. His mother Oreo, the beginning of this deliciously-named family of orcas, is never too far from Cookie’s side, keeping him in line.
More extended family mischief! Do you remember when you used to get together with your cousins at family reunions and the chaos you’d create? Well, the shenanigans of Notch, Star, and Uncle Moby are just another example of orca whales not being all that different from us. Notch and Star are cousins, while Moby is their uncle, and there’s nothing they like more than teaming up to cause a little innocent trouble for their pod-mates.
Even though these fantastic animals live in an environment that couldn’t be any more different from ours, their desire to live and play lines up well with our own. And that goes for kids, adults, and adults who like to act like kids!
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