Subject: Brydes whale-Orca attack

Jennifer D. Philips (
Fri, 08 May 1998 09:26:00 -1000

>At 09:46 AM 05/02/1998 -1000, you wrote:
>>>We were watching the news and some pictures came out of killer whales
>>>attacking a rare whale. I think they said it was a bridesmaid whale or
>>>brides head whale???? Did we hear wrong because I have been searching
>>>the internet for information and have found nothing.
>>>My sister said maybe it was bow head whale anyway thanks for the help
>>Vickie - 
>>You didn't hear wrong, you just spelled it wrong.  There is a whale called
>>the Bryde's whale (some pronounce it "Brides" others pronounce it
>>"Broodes").  The Bryde's whale it not as rare as it is less know than other
>>baleen whales.  But their numbers have definitely been reduced by whaling,
>>with their current population estimated at 90,000.  They are not seen as
>>often because they tend to stay in open ocean (rarely close to shore lines)
>>and they usually occur either singly or in small groups.
>>Thanks for the info I found loads of info from the internet. Are they
>spotted around there and with the unaturally warm waters of el nino is that
>why they were or it was spotted down south I think it was around Baja.
>The orcas attacked it and it tried to hide under the boat that  spotted it
>but it did get injured but the orcas did not eat it they started back
>playing again. I thought that they only killed for food and so it was
>behavior that was strange that got this whole thing in the news the fact
>they were playing around the boat then when they came up on this Brydes
>whale and atacked like they were going to eat then stopped after obviously
>drawing blood and went back to playing. Anyway Thank you/

Vickie - I'm not sure where you are saying you saw the Bryde's whale and
Orcas, but I can tell you a litte about orca attacks on baleen whales,
regardless of the location of the sighting.  Killer whales are known to
attack and eat baleen whales and their calves, and we know that this at
least occurs along the coast lines as baleen whales, such as gray whales,
are migrating to feeding grounds with their calves.  Most likely,
therefore, this also occurs out at sea where other whales migrate and live,
and sightings are much more rare, but the occurences are not necessarily
less frequent.  At any rate, about the behavior you saw:  No, it is not
common for ANY predator to stop in the process of attacking/killing its
prey.  The 'play' behavior you described was only interpretted by the
onlookers as play - but that does mean they were playing.  If they were
leaping, breaching, and slapping their tails on the water, that would more
likely have been agressive behavior, especially if they were in the
processes of a kill when the boat got in the way.  If the whale 'hid' under
the boat, or near the boat, that would certainly interfere with the killer
whales attack, since they tend to attack by cutting off the movement of the
whales and lung at the whale from the surface rf just below the surface.  A
boat on the surface very near by could interfere with that.  But, even if
the boat was not in the area, the whales might have stopped the attack for
other reasons, even if just for a rest or other.  Great white sharks very
often stop the attack after the initial strike and return a bit later, and
many other predators do this as well.  There's no saying what happened
after the boat left the area.  




Jennifer D. Philips

Marine Mammal Research Program
HIMB, University of Hawaii at Manoa
PO Box 1106			
Kailua, HI  96734
voice:  (808) 247-5063
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