Orca witnessed the adoptive parenting of a pilot whale calf for the first time

Virtual image of a new world

Saedís, an orca, with a long-finned pilot whale calf by her side


A long-finned pilot whale calf swimming behind a female orca’s fin—in a “mattress,” or mother-calf pose—was documented for the first time. How the interspecies pair came together is unknown, leading the researchers to wonder if the calf was adopted or kidnapped.

In August 2021, a whale watching tour near the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland spotted a group of three orcas with a surprise guest. Marie-Thérèse Mrusczuk in Nature Research in Western Iceland.

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