A pod of killer whales and two humpbacks were captured on video last week in an “astonishing” brawl off the coast of Washington state, whale-watching captains said.
The jaw-dropping encounter occurred last Thursday morning in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, near the US-Canada border, the Pacific Whale Watch Association said.
Crew members with Eagle Wing tours were roughly 25 miles west of Victoria, British Columbia when they noticed about 15 Bigg’s transient orcas being suspiciously active on the surface. They eventually spotted two humpback whales in their midst.
“The encounter included an astonishing three hours of breaching, tail-slapping, and loud vocalizations,” the PWWA statement read.
“All of the whales disappeared into the fog, keeping the final outcome of the melee a mystery.”
Part of the confrontation was caught on video by Mollie Naccarato, a captain and naturalist with Sooke Coastal Explorations.
“I’ve loved whales my whole life, so I cried three times yesterday on the boat,” she told KING the day after the incident.
“Even doing this every day, things like that just truly take your breath away.”
The PWWA identified the humpbacks as Hydra, a female from Hawaii, and Reaper, from Mexico. Researchers believe they may have started harassing the orcas while the latter were hunting.
“There have been a few occasions in recent years that our naturalists have seen humpback whales come to the rescue of other animals, like sea lions, that were being chased by orcas,” Erin Johns Glass, executive director of the PWWA, told KING.
With both the orca and humpback whale populations increasing due to more stringent protections for marine animals, Gless predicted that similar clashes could become more common.
“We’re seeing more orcas and we’re seeing more humpbacks, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of these encounters of those two species together,” she explained.
The Salish Sea confrontation comes less than two months after The Post reported on New York’s own booming whale population. In 2022 alone, Gotham Whale researchers spotted over 260 whales around New York Harbor, up from just five a decade ago.