— Meredith Frost (@MeredithFrost) September 17, 2015
Australian photographer Robyn Malcolm has captured a mind blowing picture: a seal hitching a ride on the back of a humpback whale off the coast of New South Wales, Australia.
“I was surprised to find photos of the cheeky seal in amongst the other shots as I didn’t notice him at the time,” Malcolm told Lucy Cormack over at The Sydney Morning Herald. “I don’t think he stayed there for long.”
Humpbacks are baleen whales, they have no teeth, and use their baleen filter system to sift small fish and plankton and krill from the water. They can consume enormous quantities of food, up to 1,400 kg every day, which is likely why the seal was around.
Whale expert Geoff Ross from New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service said:
“Humpbacks force fish into very tight bait balls, that means everyone can dart through the inside or the middle – anything that makes it easier to catch fish, seals will be involved.”
To my honest surprise, he explained that this behavior is not unheard of.
“The only other time was a seal trying to get away from a killer whale,” said Ross. “The seal hopped on the back of the pectoral fins of a humpback whale.”
Right now, humpback whales are making their way down the Australian coast en masse as they head to Antarctica for the summer, resting and feeding as they go.