As it continues to be whale migration season, a new video arrives shot by fishermen off the coast of Carmet, California in Sonoma County over the weekend. Their boat got fairly close to the dramatic scene of two orcas coming after their favorite prey, a baby gray whale. Gray whale mothers and their calves tend to swim close to shore on their trip north, with the mothers continuing to nurse the calves along the way. And as we heard just last month, one spot where "gangs" of killer whales were frequently preying on gray whales was in Monterey Bay, where the gray whales rest in what they believe is a safe spot.
As ABC 7 reports, fishermen Dane Mornell and Kevin Loughman shot the video above on Saturday, and while you don't see anything too grisly, you can see the orcas aggressively swarming around the larger gray whale mother and the calf. This all happened in water about 100 feet deep, and this is perhaps some of the closest proximity footage of such an attack ever shot.
Gray whales migrate south to give birth in warmer waters after a gestation period of 12 months, and gray whale mothers tend to give birth every two to three years. As The Whale's Tail explains, the babies don't have enough blubber to insulate them from cold waters at first, but they grow incredibly rapidly in the migration season, drinking up to 50 gallons of their mothers milk per day, doubling size in two months and gaining as much as 70 pounds per day.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat first picked up the story, noting that three other fisherman who also took cell phone video spotted a pod of killer whales, possibly as many as six, attacking a gray whale nearby off the Sonoma coast about 90 minutes earlier. That video, which appears to be a separate incident, is below, and be warned: in it you can see a spray of blood.
A dead whale that later washed up on shore in Sonoma County was likely the calf, as SF Gate reports, only the whale carcass did not show any obvious signs of trauma except for damage to its jaw and some rake marks to its body. The carcass later washed back out to sea and scientists from the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito did not get to examine it thoroughly.
See photos of that whale via the Sonoma County Sheriff's chopper, below.
Today, our helicopter Henry1 spotted this dead whale in the surf at Salmon Creek Beach pic.twitter.com/3bUY1k7rO3— sonomasheriff (@sonomasheriff) May 16, 2016