Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Humpback Whale Rescues Baby Seal
Scientists Robert L Pitman and John W Durban sailed to the Antarctic in search of killer whales - killer whales that eat seals, catching them by forcing or tipping them off ice flows.
While they observed the unfolding of such an event, a group of humpback whales arrived on the scene. Pitman and Durban watched as one seal, swept into the water by the orca, swam towards the humpbacks.
As the killer whales moved in, the seal leapt onto the vast
ribbed belly of a humpback, and nestled in the animal's armpit. And when a wave threatened to put the seal back in harm’s way, the humpback used its massive fifteen foot long flipper to help it back on.
"Moments later the seal scrambled off and swam to the safety of a nearby ice floe," wrote the scientists. They believe the seal triggered a maternal defense mechanism in the humpbacks. Scientists have to talk that way. Normal people would say that the humpback which has a huge brain and lives in close societies had empathy for the seal just as any of us might. WE do not credit animals with higher brain functions, even though the anatomy of their brains shows they clear have that capacity. Here's a question for you: what would the consequences be if we really got it that animals have minds, emotions and feelings. Ponder that one.