A humpback whale named Spirit and her male calf, Sunny, found themselves in an uncompromising position off of West Australian's southwest coast.
Five aggressive male whales competed to mate with the mother. If one of them had successfully managed to mate with Spirit, the calf would have perished from being separated from its mother.
Eventually, another species intervened to protect mother and calf.
A whale watching tour group managed to capture the amazing rescue attempt after Spirit and Sunny were pursued for 30 minutes.
A pod of bottlenose dolphins came to the aid of the exhausted female humpback.
A group of horny male humpback whales start competing to mate with a humpback mom. But she's not into it, she's swi… https://t.co/9tlrimTATl— Zaron Burnett III (@Zaron Burnett III)1535053773.0
Whale Watch WA posted the incredible footage in which Spirit protected her calf by using the vessel as a barrier to protect themselves.
And here is video of the pod of dolphins coming to the whales' rescue:
People were very moved by the spectacle.
@SeaShepherdPaul @SeaShepherd404 And we --- mankind --- still want to look down on anything other than ourselves?!?… https://t.co/NxWiajPPue— Refill_Mart (@Refill_Mart)1535049791.0
@SeaShepherdPaul @SeaShepherd404 Little heroes! They are amazing.— Karin Kaufmann (@Karin Kaufmann)1535040212.0
The whale watching group explained that the manner in which the mother protected her calf was the most intense they've ever witnessed as the "Mother brought her calf time and time again close into our vessel, even pushing herself and the calf slightly into our hull where the males could not go."
"Spirit pushed Sunny so close to us his body rubbed up against our hull as she blocked the approach of the males and protected her calf from being crushed. We could hear the distress in her exhalation as she trumpeted towards the males in aggression and Sunny was doing everything he could to follow mums directions."
Spirit and Sunny, whom the agency recognized from previous sightings in Flinders Bay, remained next to the boat for 40 minutes until the male pod dispersed one by one.
Eventually, one lone Humpback remained and closely followed the duo.
The spectators on the boat were suddenly surprised at the sight of the approaching dolphins who surrounded Spirit and Sunny as if they were a part of their pod.
"They could feel the energy between mother and calf who were slowly calming back down as the immediate danger of separation had settled slightly."
We help each other even in the sealife. https://t.co/7Ce90K18kw— Johnnyo Activst, Humanitarian (@Johnnyo Activst, Humanitarian)1535029580.0
"The approach of a young male Humpback changed the mentality of the larger male in a good way as he now took ownership of mother and calf, defensively chasing the other male away and it was at this moment both Sunny and Spirit relaxed enough to now move away from our vessel."
@Zaron3 We should all aspire to be those dolphins.— Lesley Wimbush (@Lesley Wimbush)1535062053.0
The remaining male whale then changed its behavior as an escort and apparent protector by chasing a younger male away from the duo.
The tour agency felt honored to be a part of something truly phenomenal.
"To have the privilege of seeing this interaction in Flinders Bay, Augusta and being in a position to be accepted by the female Humpback to assist in saving her calf from immediate danger is something we will always treasure and a true once in a lifetime experience."
Director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit at The University of British Columbia, Andrew Trites, was intrigued by the video and told Newsweek that the dolphins protected Spirit and Sunny as if they were one of their own.
"I'm not so sure it's altruistic, as in the dolphins know they're going to save another species. They're acting instinctively without realizing the threat isn't a killer whale."
@SeaShepherdPaul @SeaShepherd404 Wow. How incredibly intelligent are these dolphins to display this kind of empathy… https://t.co/kCkUTQ80TV— IslandLife🌻 (@IslandLife🌻)1535048870.0
The video is evidence of the lengths a mother will go by not abandoning the calf. "Competition pods are certainly the reason that calves can and do get separated from their Mothers," said agency spokesperson.
"In our opinion Mothers would never abandoned their calves as is thought by some, they only have to be a few meters away from each other that can cause loss of contact."
Thanks to the help of the dolphins, the pair were able to stay together safely.
Whale Watch WA responded to the concern regarding the calf and assured he will be fine. "When we departed the second male had left the area and the other male had taken up his position as escort which the female allowed," read the response. "He will now protect her as they wait for their southern migration to Antartica for the summer feeding."