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Seal Hitches Ride On Humpback Whale In Extremely Rare Occurence [PHOTO]

Sep 18, 2015 01:22 PM EDT
Seal on the Back of a Whale
A seal hitches a ride on the back of a Humpback Whale off the New South Whales coast.
(Photo : Robyn Malcolm /

Ever spot a seal riding piggyback on a humpback whale? An Australian photographer did so recently while on a whale-watching tour and managed to capture this rare occurrence off the coast of Eden, New South Wales (NSW). In addition to the free ride, the seal got VIP access to a grand fish buffet.

"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," Geoff Ross, a NSW National Parks and Wildlife whale expert, said in a statement. "They look they are bubble feeding, a very unique behavior. We've not known humpbacks in NSW waters to feed like this; that's the first time I've seen that happen in NSW waters."

While Ross noted the rare occurrence, he's heard of it happening before. "The only other time was a seal trying to get away from a killer whale ... the seal hopped on the back of the pectoral fins of a humpback whale," he added.

The photo was captured by photographer Robyn Malcolm, but with the dozens of other whales she saw coming out of the water, she didn't notice that the seal was riding on the humpback until she went through her photos. She told ABC news that despite questions regarding the authenticity of the photo, she assures everyone that is it not doctored and has the memory card to prove it.


Lampreysfor instance, latch on to fish and suck their blood using ring-shaped mouths filled with teeth. Lampreys are jawless fish that look similar to eels.  

Recently, a crow also took a ride on the back of a bald eagle. Whether it was originally an attack or the crow just needed to rest its wings, the eagle didn't seem to mind. 

Oxpeckers also have a symbiotic relationship with large mammals such as buffalo, rhino or giraffe. They ride along on their backs and use a scissor motion to comb through their host's hair and eat parasites such as ticks and botfly larvae. In this case, the birds get food and the larger mammals get a cleaning. The birds might even clean deeper inside their host's ears if they are still hungry. 

Egyptian Plovers and crocodiles also have a mutual agreement. These tiny birds risk their lives cleaning crocodile teeth in search of food. This benefits crocodiles because it prevents stuck food from rotting between the teeth and causing infection. 

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).  

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