Killer whale mother and calf sighted off east coast
Posted : 2017-03-17 15:55
Updated : 2017-03-17 18:04
A killer whale mother and calf are seen swimming off Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province, Wednesday. / Yonhap
By Kim Bo-eun
A killer whale mother and calf were seen in Korea's East Sea, the National Institute of Fisheries Science (NIFS) said Friday.
The whales were observed near Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province, Wednesday, according to the institute.
In 2015, two killer whales were seen in the same area, but the last time a killer whale mother and calf were seen was in 2001, off Hongdo, in South Jeolla Province.
The latest sightings may signal Korea's East Sea as a new habitat for killer whales.
The NIFS believes the whales have expanded their habitat from the Sea of Okhotsk to the East Sea because of its abundance of prey such as seals.
Killer whales are one of largest members of the cetacean family and are typically five to eight meters long, weighing three to six tons.
As apex predators, they have no natural enemies. The whales hunt in groups and even attack larger whale species.
But in the wild, they are not known to attack humans.
"Killer whales were unseen for some time, and from the perspective of ecology, we regard it as a positive sign that they are being seen again in the East Sea," said Sohn Haw-sun, senior scientist at the Cetacean Research Institute affiliated with NIFS.
"The existence of killer whales _ which are at the top of the predators' food chain _ signals high and stable biological diversity in the area."