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article imageVideo of resourceful seal jumping into boat to escape orca whales

By Marcus Hondro     Aug 18, 2015 in Science
A rather resourceful seal saved itself from getting eaten alive by orca killer whales in B.C. waters last week. The desperate fellow jumped into an empty dinghy to avoid the whales and there is video of the seal waiting it out as the orcas search nearby.
Orcas on seal hunt
It happened Friday afternoon in beautiful Desolation Sound at the north end of B.C.'s Sunshine Coast when two transient pods of orcas were in the sound on business — looking for lunch. Seal is a welcome part of the diet of many species of whales and there was at least one seal in the area.
Naturally, that seal did not relish the thought of getting eaten alive and, in desperation, when it spotted a small boat it jumped up and right into it. But there was a fisherman in the boat he was startled and witnesses said he gunned the motor, sending the hapless seal back into the ocean.
But the seal didn't give up, after all the stakes were rather high. It saw a small Zodiac, a dinghy, belonging to Michelle and Ryan Wigmore, which they were towing behind their yacht, and swam over to it.
The Wigmores had been watching a dozen or so whales on a hunt for food and saw the harbour seal get turfed by the fisherman. They then saw it swim over to their empty dinghy - and jump in. The frightened seal and the whales was quite a spectacle for the Wigmores.
“It was just breathtaking and heartbreaking in a way because you don’t want to get in the middle of a hunt and affect wildlife and affect nature," Michelle Wigmore told Global News. "But at the same time, you feel sort of sorry for the seal, but you know that this is how these transient orcas survive."
Seal the (escape) deal
The seal decided upon the only strategy it really could, which was to wait the whales out, even appearing to close its eyes and take a short nap. Eventually the seal's patience worked, the whales left the area and the seal, about 15 minutes later, slipped back into the water and, no doubt cautiously, went about the rest of its day.
Josh McInnes, a transient orca researcher at the University of Victora, is studying the two transient pods and witnessed the escape of the seal. He told CTV News that it's not uncommon for such a thing to occur and there have been other accounts of seals leaping into a boat to save their lives.
Like the Wigmores, McInnes was thrilled to witness the event and he lauded the seal's intelligence and patience in finding a unique way to survive yet one more day. However as far as the orcas are concerned there is, of course, always tomorrow.....
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