Whale approaches boat captain in Mexico to have lice on its body removed
A whale-watching captain of 20 years in Mexico is also a whale “groomer” now.
In a video posted in March circulating on social media, a whale in Mexico’s Ojo de Liebre Lagoon is seen approaching Mr Paco Jimenez Franco’s boat and lifting its head out of the water.
Mr Franco proceeds to pick some lice off the whale as it stays close to the boat.
This is not the first such encounter for Mr Franco, reported The Dodo, an American news site for animal lovers, on Saturday.
“I have done it repeatedly with the same whale and others,” he told The Dodo. “It is very exciting for me.”
Lice are common parasites that live on the body surface of marine mammals like whales.
The lice may bring some benefits to their host by eating algae on the whale’s skin, according to Newsweek. However, they also feed on flaking skin and wound sites.
Mr Franco said the first time a whale got close enough to his boat, he removed a louse from its head.
“Once I removed the first one, she approached again so that I could continue to do so,” he said.
Since then, the same whale has returned on separate occasions to be “groomed”, and Mr Franco is happy to oblige.
“I have learnt, by seeing their behaviour, that there is a certain nobility in them,” he said. “They’re incredible.”
Commenting on the video, Facebook user Tarugo Zaka-moko said: “Amazing. Whales are known to be very intelligent, and this one knows how to get help.”
Another Facebook user Linda Gibson-Tehan said: “What an extraordinary thing to see.”