Killer whales are making headlines these days. J35 Tahlequah has captured the hearts of people all around the world in her “tour of grief” as she carries her dead baby into a 10th day.
These animals are incredible. I do not have words to adequately describe them. I have had many encounters with other whale species, such as humpbacks, but nothing is quite like killer whale encounters.
When they look at you, you feel the presence of another soul. I am a biologist by training; we are often taught not to anthropomorphize animals. But with orcas, the lines get blurred. If you speak to any scientist who has spent any time with them, they will say the same. There’s somebody behind those eyes looking back at you. A thinking, feeling being with emotional and social complexity we haven’t even begun to thoroughly understand.
Every moment I spend with killer whales, I learn something new, both about them as a species and about our species as well. We may live in radically different environments, but we are not so different at heart.
I hope Tahlequah has inspired people to care and conserve these extraordinary animals. I know they inspire me every time I am lucky enough to see them.