Odd Couple of the Deep: B.C. Dolphins Hang out With Killer Whales

February 11, 2019 Updated: February 11, 2019

VANCOUVER—Drone flights have revealed an odd couple of the deeps.

Scientists from the Vancouver Aquarium released video footage of dolphins hanging around pods of killer whales, two species that are usually more like predator and prey than Felix and Oscar.

Biologist Lance Barrett-Lennard says the dolphins have learned to distinguish between resident killer whales and those just passing through.

The resident killer whales eat fish and don’t eat dolphins while transient killer whales will also eat mammals including dolphins.

Barrett-Lennard says researchers have known about the phenomenon for some time.

But he says the drones reveal just how close the dolphins get—sometimes literally right under the killer whales noses.

The resident whales mostly ignore their smaller cousins, although Barrett-Lennard says sometimes it looks as if the big mammals dive especially deep just to escape the little ones.

He points out the resident whales and transient whales generally avoid each other.

The dolphins seem to have figured out that as long as they’re with the locals, they’re safe.

 

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