At first it seemed like the usual, deviously clever attack. Several
killer whales were trying to catch a Weddell seal that had taken refuge
atop a drifting patch of Antarctic ice. The orcas swam alongside each
other, creating a wave that knocked the hapless pinniped into the water.
Death seemed certain.
Then something amazing happened: A pair of humpback whales turned up.
As the panicked seal swam toward them, a lucky wave tossed it onto the
chest of the closer, upturned whale. The whale arched its chest out of
the water, which kept the seal away from the charging killer whales. And
when the seal started to fall off, the whale carefully pushed it back
onto its chest with a flipper. Soon after that, the seal scrambled to
safety on another ice floe.
“I was shocked,” recalls marine ecologist Robert Pitman, who witnessed the episode in 2009 and described it and another example in Natural History magazine that year. “It looked like they were trying to protect the seal.”
Some folks insist that believing in animal rights is like a religion.
But religion asks followers to believe in things nobody can see, while animal rights advocates ask followers to see things nobody can believe.