Ever wondered why orcas are called killer whales? Yeah, me too. Lucky for you I’m an expert, trust me, even without visiting an aquarium.
We all watched Free Willy and dreamed of swimming with orcas, which is not a good idea. There have been reports of killer whales attacking sail boats in Spanish and Portuguese waters. In South Africa several great whites have been chased, attacked and killed by Willy. Legend says the great whites still avoid Gansbaai, their usual hang out spot.
Ferocious killers and maybe the smartest predator alive. Not immediately terms you think of when describing dolphins. Yes, killer whales are dolphins, don’t let the name fool you. In Spanish they’re known as balena asesina. I don’t think you need me to translate. If you do need extra intel: take a look at their extra sharp 40 some teeth, or their impressive 4000 kg. Or maybe their atletic body and maximum speed up to 56km/h.
Michael Phelps swims 8 km/hour… If you can’t outswim them, then definitely don’t join them. What makes an apex predator even more dangerous? Well, where there’s one, there’s two or even pods with as many as 30 mammals. Safety in numbers and all that.
Step one for planning the perfect assassination? Have a plan. Killer whales use different hunting strategies, depending on the region they’re located at and will help each other, always. The pods in arctic water will work together to hunt seals. They often think they’re safe on ice berg, but killer whales outsmart them by using their body weight to make waves and force the seals back in the water, where hungry mouths are waiting. Think it’s better on shore? Try again. The pods near Argentina beach themselves with a special technique in order to fill their belly with naive baby seals.
In British Columbia researchers have found remains of deer in the stomach of a killer whale. Size is usually something that helps: being bigger than your opponent usy helps, but not in the case of killer whales. By working together they can even kill baby humpback whales by drowning them. With the famous words from Marlin to Nemo: it’s not safe!
Although all of the above does not sound very inviting, we’ll end with a positive note. Tough there have been lethal accidents with people and orcas, all of the killer whales were held in captivity, wich would make any sane creature a bit cuckoo, there are no records of attacks on humans in the wild.
Which still isn’t an invitation by any means to be the first. When you go down in the history books, don’t let it be for something like this.