Group of Orcas Begin Fad in Washington State

Orcas are a particularly fascinating animal to study because of their social complexities. Scientists noted that one summer several orcas near San Juan Island in Washington state began the fad of carrying a salmon around on their heads. One whale started it, and before long, all the “cool kids” were doing it. It didn’t seem to be any type of hunting practice or to serve any practical purpose. Before scientists knew it, other pods in the region had picked up the behavior. Researchers still haven't figured out why the fad started or what it signified. Another example of unique orca behavior involves a “rubbing beach” located in the Johnstone Strait region of Vancouver Island, Canada. Pods of orcas visit the area and spend time rubbing their bodies across the smooth pebbles just below the surface of the water. Why they do it, scientists don’t know. They surmise that it could feel good to the orcas, much like a day at the spa for humans.