In Mexico, gray whales have reportedly sought help from humans to get rid of parasites that attach themselves to their skin.
Recently, a captain of a tourist boat in Baja California ( Mexico ) revealed that gray whales have learned to approach the boats to have whale lice attached to their skin removed, reports The Guardian.
In other words, cetaceans would have taken to “asking humans for help” to accomplish this task. Video documenting this behavior was captured in the Ojo de Liebre Lagoon off Baja California.
In the images, we see a marine mammal being removed from the parasites by the captain of a gray whale observation boat : “ I have done this several times with the same whale and other specimens. It’s very exciting for me , ”said Paco Jimenez Franco, the captain of the ship, to the British media.
As the information site clarifies, cyamides (nicknamed “whale lice”) are small crustaceans that live in the natural crevices of whales. These little beasts feed on the skin of their hosts.
“ I think gray whales have a love-hate relationship with their lice. They have very sensitive skin and these thousands of tiny creatures clinging or moving around with their pointed, curved legs must be driving them crazy ,” said Mark Carwardine, a British zoologist.
Interviewed by The Guardian, Paco Jimenez Franco recounted his first experience as a “whale groomer”. He first removed a head louse from a whale when the whale got close enough for him to do so.
“ When I pulled out the first louse, she came over again so I could continue ,” he explained. According to him, the same animal returned several times for a new “grooming session”.
Baja California gray whales are famous for their curious behavior towards boats. For his part, Mark Carwardine said he had never seen this in his career. However, he is unable to confirm that approaching humans for help with grooming is a new behavior in whales.