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Narwhal with beluga whales. Photo: GREMM WHALESONLINE.ORG

Unusual Whale Adoptions

Whales and dolphins are truly special. A good example is their willingness to care and have compassion for individuals from different species. Here are some examples …

An unusual mother and baby pair were spotted swimming together in Australian waters – the baby was a humpback and the mother was a southern right whale who seemed to have taken the little one under her flipper. Perhaps the humpback lost his/her mother and was adopted by the right whale. A vulnerable baby would certainly welcome the motherly comfort and protection offered by a large baleen whale. It is possible that the right whale had recently lost her own baby and might have heard the distress calls of the humpback and swum over to help.

In Iceland, a well-known orca called Sædís was spotted looking after a newborn pilot whale. We don’t know whether Sædís adopted the orphaned baby, or whether she stole the baby from the pilot whale’s mother after perhaps losing her own baby. Sædís and the baby pilot whale were swimming with two more orcas - a female, Dragonfly and a male called Zale – who seemed comfortable with the situation.

A young male narwhal was adopted by a pod of belugas when they came across him 1000km from his Arctic home – he must have lost his way while on migration. This young narwhal was fully excepted by the belugas as one of their own and he was seen with them many times for over three years. Belugas and narwhals are sociable species and the belugas seemed to welcome the narwhal into their social group.

Other examples of whales and dolphins seen caring for a baby or individual in need from a different species include a group of sperm whales in the Azores who adopted a disabled bottlenose dolphin and a bottlenose dolphin in New Zealand who adopted a melon-headed whale baby alongside her own baby. Short-beaked common dolphins, Indian Ocean humpbacks and Indo-Pacific humpbacks have also been spotted caring for individuals from other dolphin species.

I’m sure you will agree that whales and dolphins are remarkable beings!

Right whale mum with humpback whale calf

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