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Into the Shallows

Grandma Grey Whale Shares Her Whale of a Tale of Surviving an Attack by Orca

By Megan BakerPublished 3 months ago 5 min read
Into the Shallows
Photo by J K on Unsplash

"Grandma!" exclaims Bubbles with a high-pitched squeak. Grandma Grey moved her eyes towards the back of her head, checking on the calf visually. No signs of danger; Bubbles was excited to ask something.

"Yes, Bubbles?" Grandma Grey asked gently.

"Can you-" Bubbles was briefly cut off mid-speaking as she fell behind her grandmother. Within a few seconds, the calf had redoubled her swimming efforts to keep up and tried again, "Can you tell Fluke and me the story about you and the Oca?" she inquired, hopeful.

By Mike Doherty on Unsplash

"Do you mean the story about me and the Orca?" Grandma Grey corrected, a lilt of humor in her voice. Even so, she braced herself in the face of sharing her tale. It was not one for the faint of heart. For a moment she considered even telling the youngsters the tale. In fact, that raised a good question...

"How do you even know about that story, Bubbles?" Grandma Grey asked, suspicious.

"I overheard you last year talking to one of the other elders on the migration!" Bubbles exclaimed proudly, before adding more meekly, "Though it did sound really scary!"

"It was very, very scary, young ones. I have half a mind not to tell it to you, but we'll be swimming through the very same waters as the day that attack took place. Not telling you about it would likely tempt fate. Better to send you in prepared."

By Brett Jordan on Unsplash

She hadn't the heart to tell the calves that it was Orca who killed their mother two years prior, leaving Bubbles and her younger brother Fluke in their grandmother's care. Orca are also known as killer whales for a reason; they are whale killers.

Grandma Grey was leading the way on the migration path. Though she had traversed the course many, many times in her long life, this was her first time leading by herself. The two older females who used to hold that honor had both passed on in the last few months. How - whether old age or victims of predation - was a mystery. But now the task of leading the migration fell to Grandma Grey. A hush fell over the group following her closest; each waited eagerly to hear her harrowing tale. Many were familiar with it; they'd heard it in some rendition from someone over the decades.

But to hear it from the survivor herself...

...that was quite the treat.

"It was my first migration to the feeding grounds," began Grandma Grey. "I was only a few months old, maybe 14 feet long. My mother had to stay in the breeding grounds longer than she would have liked because I was born on the late side. Because of this, she choose to have us swim through deeper waters as part of a shortcut. We know how it is; after giving birth, we want nothing more than to feed. But we can't until we reach the feeding grounds. So we took the shortcut through deep waters. I didn't know any better. And my mother didn't prepare me."

"We heard their clicking first; it was far off. I think at first my mother thought that, if we were both very quiet, they wouldn't know we were there. But they knew. Orca always know."

"The clicking died down, and we thought we would be safe. But then..."

"But then what, Grandma?" Bubbles pressed, awed.

By Felix Rottmann on Unsplash

"Then they attacked. One came up from the deep, dark depths below and rammed into me. They knocked the air out of my lungs and I scrambled to reach the surface. As I tried to surface, more began charging in, ramming into me and my mother. Juvenilles and adult Orca bombarded us, ramming at full speed into our sides. They leapt over us, landing on our backs, threatening to take us under..."

"Is that how-?" Bubbles began, her eyes trailing over her grandmother's back to a section that had been broken and healed poorly, hindering her grandmother's movements. Rather than fluid movement, her grandmother's swimming was jerky.

By Rudi De Meyer on Unsplash

"Yes. One of the adults landed on my back just right, earning me my most notable - and lifelong - injury. But there were more. They circled us for hours, ramming us until blood sprayed with our every exhale. We were so exhausted... But somehow, my mother managed to maneuver us back towards the shallows. When we got so close to shore that they couldn't ram us from beneath, the Orca eventually broke off the attack. We were bruised and bloodied - and my back broken - but we were alive."

It was then that Bubbles thought she caught a sound; far off, the faint, tell-tale clicking of Orca. But she had never heard such sounds herself. Was she imagining it? With a sickening realization, she knew she wasn't.

"Grey! Killer whales coming in fast!" called one of the adults further back in the migration group, confirming Bubble's suspicions. At the call, the pod immediately began picking up speed. Fear began to travel through the group.

"Follow me!" Grandma Grey exclaimed, "Into the shallows!"

As they raced to safety, they were overcome by several pods of the faster Orca, all banding together for the hunt in a mass of adults and juvenilles. The grey whales moved their young to the inner perimeter of their pod, the adults using their huge bulk to buffer the attacks from the Orca. Bubbles flinched as two adult Orca rammed into her grandmother in quick succession, targeting the weak spot where her back had already been broken.

By Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Grey hadn't taken the group too far into deep water for their shortcut, thankfully, primarily because of the Orca. Though the killer whales attacked them the entire way, eventually, they made it safely into the shallows. Just as Grandma Grey had said, they quickly broke off the attack once they couldn't easily ram into their targets.

Once things calmed down, Grey asked Bubbles, "So what did you think of those Orca?"

"I think I'll stick to the shallows..." Bubbles answered.

Short StoryAdventure

About the Creator

Megan Baker

A fun spin on her last name, Baker enjoys creating "Baker's Dozen" lists for various topics, several of which have earned Top Story honors on! However, she also writes candidly about her mental health and a LOT of fiction.

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