‘Like a cat’: Incredible whale encounter
A scientist has used a "whalfie stick" - that's a whale selfie stick - to capture incredible footage of killer whales roaming at the edges of Antarctica's sea ice.
The encounter happened last week in the final few hours of Dr Regina Eisert's research for this season in the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area.
The marine mammal expert from New Zealand's University of Canterbury was standing on the edge of the sea ice collecting biopsy samples from adult whales when a juvenile Type-C killer whale made its approach.
"I put my whalfie stick in the water as soon as I saw it come close and waited to see what would happen," she said.
"It made a beeline for it, bumped the camera with its nose, opened its mouth and showed me a piece toothfish inside, as though it was trying to get me to take it.
"It was really special, the only way I can describe it is like when a cat offers you a mouse," she says.
You can watch the moment in the video above.
Dr Eisert has spent this Antarctic season studying Type-C killer whales in order to gain an understanding of how many there are in the region, where they live and what they eat.
Her research focuses on the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area, and how the whales would be affected by a change in toothfish availability due to fishing.
The moment was made all the more poignant for her because of this.
"Here I am carrying out research to help protect the Ross Sea region and find out whether or not the whales eat toothfish, and one comes up showing me it does.
"Whales are highly social and there has been an instance in the past where a leopard seal offered a diver a penguin, but I've never had an experience quite like this," she says.
This article originally appeared on The New Zealand Herald and was reproduced with permission.