After years of following orca families, scientists have learned that orca mothers sacrifice everything in raising sons. Mothers will sacrifice their own well-being to raise prominent, strong sons. Unlike females who learn to be independent in adulthood, male orcas stay with their mothers. They depend on their mothers to feed them and even demand a share of their food.
According to Prof Darren Croft from the University of Exeter, orca “Mothers sacrifice their own food and their own energy” to raise sons. They will hunt for them and share their catch. But why?
For this research, 40 orca females were observed and followed from 1982-2021. Scientists learned that when a mother was raising a son, her chances of raising another calf were cut in half. Having a son reduced the orca’s chance of having another annual offspring by 70 percent. Dr Michael Weiss from the University of Exeter and Center for Whale Research said, “Killer whale mothers pay a high cost in terms of their future reproduction to keep their sons alive.”
According to the research, mothers are betting on their sons to be the biggest and oldest males, which female orcas prefer. The bigger and more mature you are, the more offsprings you are likely to have. Orca mothers sacrifice everything in raising sons in the hope that they will spread their genes when the time comes. I guess mothers are willing to shorten their lives in order to become grandmothers. We are not that different from orcas after all.
Since only 73 of these orcas are left, scientists want to do whatever possible to learn more about them to protect them better. Anything that slows down or prevents the females from reproducing is a concern. Since we can’t stop orca mothers from having sons, I’m not sure what could be done.