The Whale Museum News & Events
J Pod's interactions with harbor porpoise end in death
Over the last week, certain members of J Pod have been documented chasing down and harassing local harbor porpoise. The first interaction occurred on July 5 when J-27 (Blackberry) and two unidentified juveniles were seen pushing a porpoise along on the surface of the water off Lime Kiln lighthouse. The porpoise was seen only briefly, but similar reports of the whales "pushing around an object" both before and after this sighting were reported.
The second incident occurred on July 9 and was observed by a research team, headed by Robin Baird, from Cascadia Research. The three whales involved on this date included J-16 (Slick), J-26 (Mike), and J-36 (Alki). After a high-speed chase, J-16 surfaced underneath the porpoise and lifted it into the air. After more chasing and lifting, all three whales disappeared on a long dive and when they surfaced a few minutes later, there were no signs of the porpoise. The research team looked for remains of the porpoise on the surface of the water but found none. The researchers never saw the porpoise again and it's unknown if the porpoise got away or if it was killed.
The third incident occurred on July 11 and was again observed by the Cascadia Research team. This interaction involved J-11 (Blossom), J-27 (Blackberry), and J-39 (Mako). This time a kill was confirmed and after the whales swam away and left the dead animal floating on the surface, the team was able to recover the body. A necropsy was performed on the body within two hours. Museum Stranding Network Pathologist Joe Gaydos performed the necropsy and said that there were no external signs of trauma (i.e., tooth marks, bruising, or broken bones). He stated the preliminary evidence suggests that this animal may have gone into shock and then drowned.
Although interactions of this type have previously been documented involving members of both K and L pods, this is the first time that J Pod has been seen toying with marine mammals of any species. For more information and photos, go to Cascadia Research.
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