Biologists specialized in cetaceans had already received testimonies indicating that there were interactions between groups of killer whales and dolphins, a “rare” behavior because the first species does not usually get together with other animals, but until now there was no documentary evidence. In the last week, however, a boat took pictures of a killer whale accompanied by a group of dolphins in Galician waters, in the Fisterra area. It is the first time in the world that a visual document of these joint trips has been provided, says Alfredo López, a doctor in biology specializing in cetaceans and a member of the Coordinator for the Study of Marine Mammals (Cemma).
A first scientific article delves into the mystery of the killer whales that approach ships in the Strait
“We already had data that the dolphins could go with the killer whales because some sailors told us about very small, very small killer whales. And it didn’t fit us,” explains López, who concludes that these small specimens were actually dolphins. The biologist points out that in this case, documented with images, the animals coincided on the same route and shared a trip. The “tightest” situation is for the dolphins, but this behavior confirms that the killer whales were not aggressive, he says. If the dolphins do not feel threatened, for them the company is “as if they were with bodyguards”. In any case, this approach is “unknown to science” and is not “sufficiently described”.
He believes that the association does not bring any benefit to the orcas, however. In this case, as explained in a publication on its Facebook profile by the Working Group of the Atlantic Orca, of which López is a part, an orca entered the stern of a boat on the Galician coast in the company of dolphins and those who were going to aboard the ship captured the moment. “This confirms that the attitude of the killer whales, regardless of the reasons that lead them to these actions, is not aggressive,” the publication adds.
This summer, several cases of orca interactions with boats have been reported off the Galician coast, as in previous years. Some of the meetings have resulted in boats with a broken piece and that have had to be towed to port.