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Meet Ol’ Tom, the orca who prefers the company of dolphins

Ol' Tom surfacing

On September 18, Ol’ Tom the killer whale was spotted off the coast of Nova Scotia—a sighting that was remarkable not because of Tom himself, but because of who he was with. The orca was swimming with a group of twenty to thirty dolphins.

"Old Thom" the orca is back in the Bay of Fundy!

Posted by Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises on Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ol’ Tom has been seen fairly regularly near Brier Island for the past eight years, but never with other whales.

“Every time we see him, he’s been accompanied by dolphins,” Shelley Longeran, a research coordinator with Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises, told the CBC.

Most orcas travel in pods, but clearly, Ol’ Tom prefers to hang out with a different crowd. His preference is particularly strange considering that orcas have been know to eat dolphins.

Many whales have personality quirks (including, apparently, making friends with potential food sources). As Longeran told the Digby County Courier, “You get to know these whales–that sounds funny–but you do; you get to see the different personalities and you look forward to seeing certain individuals.”

Longeran suspects that Ol’ Tom was orphaned, which may be why he isn’t part of a pod. We’re just glad he isn’t facing the world alone, and has found an accepting surrogate family.