E-mail from Crystal:
From : Crystal
To: Eric Poncelet
Date : December 3, 1998 03:28
' [...] I was wondering, if an Orca was stranded on a beach and people were to roll it over, what would happen to the fin? I have looked in a lot of books and on the internet and I cannot find it. I know someone, somewhere, has done it, but I cannot find it. [...] '
What an interesting question!
Well, you know that some killer whales beach themselves to catch preys in the southern hemisphere (Patagonia, Crozet Islands, etc.). Once they've catched their prey (young elephant seal, penguin, etc.) on the beach they slide back to the water wrapping themselves out. But this strategy isn't inborn and must be taught to children by their mother. Sometimes young unpractised killer whales remain stranded and can't wrap themselves. Usually the mother watch over and help, but sometimes the child is too high on the beach for the mother to intervene... and if nothing happens (e.g. if the flood tide don't help) the child dies...
This happened once on the Possession Island (Crozet Is., Antarctic Ocean). Dr. Christophe Guinet (a French researcher) and his team found a young killer whale stranded still alive with her (it was a female) mother waiting helpless.
I never heard that a killer whale has been rolled over. In my opinion killer whales have a too high dorsal fin and are too heavy to be rolled over. And there is not only the dorsal fin that prevents from rolling but the pectoral fins! So I believe a few humans can't roll a killer whale over its dorsal fin. And if it's done one day by any mean, it would be very painful for the whale. But the dorsal fin wouldn't break as there is no bone inside. Maybe it would remain bent for a few weeks I don't know.
So let's go back to our young stranded killer whale. Dr Guinet and his team turned her back towards the ocean and pushed her with the help of the waves closer to the water. Then the whale understood and tried again wrapping herself, successfully this time! Mother and child left and joined back their family...
Here it is, a nice story that ends well!
Hope this will help you.
Eric PONCELET, M.B.
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