Rare whale attack in Puget Sound witnessed near Everett

Updated:

PWWA officials say a crew saw four killer whales cross paths with two adult “Saratoga gray whales,” part of around a dozen grays that come to Puget Sound each spring to feed on ghost shrimp. [Photo: NOAA]
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

EVERETT, Wash. - A rare whale attack, a "clash of titans," in Puget Sound this week was captured on camera.

According to Pacific Whale Watch Association officials, the attack occurred between transient orcas [Bigg’s killer whales] and gray whales -- close to Everett, Washington.

[Photo: Capt. Michael Colahan -- Island Adventures and Pangea Pictures.]
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

“ … When the Bigg’s take on the balleens, it gets hearts racing, even among the most experienced whale watchers,” wrote officials with the Pacific Whale Watch Association [PWWA].

In a release, senior deckhand and naturalist Tyson Reed, of Island Adventures Whale Watching, called the attack “a clash of the titans.”

PWWA officials say a crew saw four killer whales cross paths with two adult “Saratoga gray whales,” part of around a dozen grays that come to Puget Sound each spring to feed on ghost shrimp.     

One of the transients decided to engage with a gray whale -- “and the battle was on.”

“It was a major altercation,” said Capt. Michael Colahan of Island Adventures in the release. “Both grays rolled over maybe a dozen times. Pretty wild!”

PWWA officials say an orca soon found himself in the middle of “two extremely perturbed leviathans.”

Overmatched and likely calling for help, the killer whale soon got backup from his mother. She parked her younger offspring safely north, changed direction and returned to help him.

The two gray whales that survived the attack had no visible injuries. 

[Photo: Capt. Michael Colahan -- Island Adventures and Pangea Pictures.]
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

From the PWWA release:

“The Great Migration of 22,000 Eastern North Pacific grays is well underway. As spring approaches, these massive creatures, which can reach 50 feet and 40 tons, begin an epic journey of between 5,000 and 6,800 miles from the warm-water calving lagoons in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula and Gulf of California to the Bering and Chukchi Seas, traveling constantly at about five knots and averaging 75 miles per day. It’s the longest migration of any mammal on Earth. Midway through the journey, from late February to the end of May, a small group makes a pit stop in Puget Sound -- for the shrimp buffet."

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