A team of scientists has observed for the first time ever how a male orca killed a baby by drowning it in order to be able to mate with his mother, in British Columbia. It’s worth noting that this tragic and unexpected even actually took place back in December 2016. However, the journal Scientific Reports published details about it only recently. According to Jared Towers, the leader of the research, the entire team noticed some unusual calls from killer whales. So, they decided to track them down to see what happened.
They finally discovered two groups of orcas, an orca with her baby and a 46-year old mother with her own offspring, a 32-year old male. The groups got close to each other and the team believed that they had found some prey. Unfortunately, that was not the case. When they didn’t see the baby return to the surface, they immediately knew something was wrong. A bit later, they saw the male orca with the newborn in his mouth, trying to move it further away from the mother. The male killer whale reportedly drowned the baby orca. Towers admitted that the team was both horrified and fascinated at the same time.
Male orca kills newborn in horrifying infanticide
According to the researchers, the baby orca was not prey, but proof of sexually-selected behavior. The male killed the baby in order to mate with the mother. Infanticide is actually a common practice among mammals, especially lions. However, this was the first time a case was documented between killer whales.
It’s also very interesting because what happened questions a common belief about female orcas. It was initially believed that they are selective when it comes to mating. However, this case proved that the females might actually not have too many alternatives and they must reproduce with whatever male comes along.
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