A well-known killer whale has been sighted off the coast of Scotland, exhibiting a semicircular wound on its tail fluke that experts assert could only be caused by a shark attack.
The whale, identified by a notch on its dorsal fin, has been nicknamed John Coe by researchers. A male, the orca is part of a small community of killer whales that are regularly spotted of the west coast of Scotland, according to BBC News. During a recent survey by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT), scientists noted the injury to its tail, and after consulting shark experts, they believe the wound is the result of an attack.
— BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) January 28, 2015
“Notable highlights during 2014 included two separate encounters with what is believed to be the UK’s only known resident population of killer whales,” they said in a statement. “This small, isolated population of orca has never produced offspring since studies began, raising fears that it faces imminent extinction. Evidence of drama emerged when one of the group’s males – known as John Coe – was observed with a large area of his tail fluke missing. Consultations with experts suggest that this was almost certainly the result of a shark attack.”
The pod of killer whales to which John Coe belongs consists of five males and four females, according to the Courier. While researchers noted that they spotted a large number of harbor porpoises during this year’s study, they also said that sightings of basking sharks fell by a third in the region. The trust related that the lack of sightings of the world’s second largest shark was part of an ongoing trend.
Breaching Killer Whale off of Victoria seen from an Eagle Wing Tours Whale Watching tour boat. pic.twitter.com/HLqqULai1a
— Less Than Emily (@lessthanemily) January 26, 2015
Researchers asserted that they could not reasonably speculate on the species of shark that was involved in the attack on John Coe. Their study was carried out between May and October last year, and in addition to the killer whales, they noted a young minke whale that approached their boat, as well as several dolphins.
Last year, a pod of killer whales was recorded preying on a tiger shark off Costa Rica. As the Inquisitr previously noted, the whales surrounded the shark and repeatedly turned it upside down, placing the animal in a state of paralysis called tonic immobility. After tormenting it for a period of time, the killer whales tore into the unfortunate shark, attacking and killing it.
[Image: Kerry Froud/HWDT via BBC News]