'Special' footage shows killer whale's fishy gift for scientist

A Kiwi scientist has captured "special" footage of the moment a killer whale tried to offer her a piece of fish.

Dr Regina Eisert was in Antarctica studying Type-C killer whales to understand their numbers, what they eat and where they live.

She saw the juvenile Type-C killer whale approaching and quickly put her whale selfie stick in the water to try and get some footage.

But she wasn't expecting the whale to swim straight up to her camera and apparently offer her a piece of its food.

"It made a beeline for [the camera], 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."

The incident occurred when Dr Eisert was collecting biopsy samples from adult whales during the final few hours of her research for the season.

Dr Eisert was studying the Ross Sea region marine protected area and how killer whales would be affected by a change in toothfish availability due to fisheries.

It was the first time she had experienced an animal offering her food, and it was luckily exactly what she was hoping to see.

"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."


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