Nature is full of heartwarming moments and wildlife photographer Mike Korostelev was able to capture a unique and touching moment in the Indian Ocean.
Korostelev, 38 from Moscow, specializes in wildlife underwater photography and whale watching. During one of his expeditions, he captured the special moment that a mother sperm whale was nursing her calf.
First, the calf gently bumped against its mother. In response, the mother released a stream of milk and the calf began feeding on the milk, without latching.
Sperm whales don’t nurse quite the same as humans. As Scitable by Nature explained, sperm whales have inverted nipples making it hard for the calves to latch on. As a result, calves need only to nudge the mammary glands and they respond by ejecting milk. They wrote:
“In a way, nursing underwater is therefore similar to nursing above water: the baby stimulates the mammary glands to eject milk, and then it drinks the milk. However, the mechanism for stimulating the milk ejection reflex must be somewhat different – in humans the babies create a seal and suction on the nipple stimulates the reflex. In whales and dolphins, it seems that the reflex is likely stimulated when the babies bump the mammary glands; for example, milk ejection was also observed in Beluga whales bumping into the bottom of a tank.”
It’s a rarity that humans get to witness such touching moments as nursing whales. Not only did Korostelev witness it, but he caught it on camera. As expected, the photographer was both amazed and honored to be present for such a moment.
“It was big honor for me to be there and so close in that private moment of whale’s life,” Korostelev said according to PatrynWorldLatestNew.
As shared by Whale Watching Russia, sperm whales are supported through pregnancy and birth by their pod, which can be made up of as many as 20 females and their babies. The mammary glands of sperm whale mothers hold around 45 liters of milk, and for good reason! Whale calves eat a lot. According to North American Nature, “Depending on the species of the whale, the calves require plenty of milk for them to grow and stay healthy. Generally, a young calf can consume milk that is approximately 10 percent of its body weight. The blue whale is the largest of the whale species. Females can produce over 200 liters of milk in a single day.”
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