Eden 9th February

We visited the Killer Whale Museum at Eden with the family after a short walk on the beach at Merimbula while some swam. Apparently the water was very cold and the waves not too exciting. http://www.sapphirecoast.com.au/the-region/towns/eden/

Old Tom’s skeleton

The killer whales of Eden Australia were a group of killer whales (Orcinus orca) known for their co-operation with human hunters of cetacean species. They were seen near the port of Eden in southeastern Australia between 1840 and 1930. A pod of killer whales, which included amongst its members a distinctive male called Old Tom, would assist whalers in hunting baleen whales. The killer whales would find target whales, shepherd them into Twofold Bay, and then alert the whalers to their presence and often help to kill the whales.

Old Tom’s role was commonly to alert the human whalers to the presence of a baleen whale in the bay by breaching or tailslapping at the mouth of the Kiah River, which is one of the smallest rivers, where the Davidson family had their tiny cottages. This role endeared him to the whalers and led to the idea that he was “leader of the pack,” although such a role was more likely taken by a female (as is typical among killer whales), probably the whale known as Stranger. After the harpooning, some of the killer whales would even grab the ropes in their teeth and aid the whalers in hauling. The skeleton of Old Tom is on display Eden Killer Whale Museum, and significant wear marks still exist on his teeth from repeatedly grabbing fast-moving ropes. In return for their help, the whalers allowed the killer whales to eat the tongue and lips of the whale before hauling it ashore, providing a rare example of mutualism between humans and killer whales. The killer whales would then also feed on the many fish and birds that would show up to pick at the smaller scraps and runoff from the fishing. (Wikipedia)

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