Subject: Orca symbiotic relationships

Tokitae (
Sun, 25 Apr 1999 15:48:47 -0400 (EDT)

>My son is doing a report on orca whales and one of the assignments is
>listing symbiotic relationships, but I as a parent have been looking for
>weeks on the net and in books.  The teacher's response was to use
>commonsense...........could you please help......his report is due in
>two weeks.         Thank you!

        I'm not surprised there is little or nothing on orca symbiotic
relationships. I'm not certain if you are asking about relationships among
orcas or between orcas and other species. Among orcas, the idea of symbiotic
relationships may be the core of their social systems. Mutual assistance
among orcas is so nearly universal that it is easily missed, since they are
virtually always in each other's company. They often cooperate in feeding
strategies, in birthing and caring for young, and in many other, intangible
ways that involve strengthening of social ties and engaging in ceremonies.

        If you are asking about symbiotic relationships between orcas and
other species, I'm afraid I don't have any references either. I suspect
there are symbiotic relationships with microorganisms such as bacteria that
aid in digestion, as in every other animal, but in terms of, perhaps, fish
that clean the teeth of orcas or clean parasites off them, or help them find
food, I am not familiar with any. There was the case of "Pelorus Jack," the
orca that accompanied New Zealand whalers out to help them find humpbacks,
and received the reward of humpback meat in return, but that is such an
abberation that it is legendary and can't be considered normal. Sorry, I
think I've used up my commonsense on the subject.

Howard Garrett
Tokitae Foundation
Lolita Campaign Coordinator
(305) 672-4039

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