Killer Whales Are Jerks

Seriously, Killer Whales are the thugs of the ocean. I just watched the first episode of The Blue Planet on the Discovery Channel, and it was pretty interesting, as most things are on the Discovery Channel. I think that Planet Earth was better (well it is newer so that makes some sense), but The Blue Planet was still done very well and had a lot a cool things to look at.

Orcas are cool and all, but they are bullies. There were two scenes that really illustrated this quite well. One was of a pod of (I think three) killer whales that over a period of six straight hours pulled a baby gray whale from it’s mother, drowned, and killed it. It was brutal. Now that is part of life, fine, so is the fact that Orcas feed on seals. I am perfectly okay with that. But do you know what these thugs do? Using their tails they throw seals out of the water, seemingly just for fun. Watch this clip where a seal is thrown a good 50 or 60 feet into the air.

Yeah, that’s real. Isn’t it ridiculous? I am amazed by their awesome power as well as their apparent joy in beating the crap out of these seals. Orcas also take on tiger sharks. Yeah. Thugs.

Categories: Around the World, Science
  1. August 13th, 2007 at 10:40 | #1

    Matt! Great post. It’s interesting how much politicking surrounds killer whales/orcas. Around this time last year, Jess and I took a weekend trip to the San Juan Islands. We spent an afternoon at the Whale Museum and our evenings on the western shore facing Victoria watching for whales (only harbor porpoises breached, much to our disappointment). There was orca information everywhere, and they were consistently portrayed as the “gentle giants of the sea” who had been given a bad rap (though they even played this down so that young ‘uns wouldn’t even know they had ever had a bad rap). There was even a 30 minute video entitled, “Orcas: Fearsome Predator or Gentle Giant?” The latter clearly won out. Orcas were never even referred to as killer whales anywhere on the island, nor was there any mention that they had ever been called that. I figured I was experiencing a bit of revisionist history, and my suspicions were confirmed when, returning to our hotel room and flipping on the t.v., we found a special on killer whales on the Discovery Channel! We watched the very clip you mentioned where the pod slowly and meticulously wears down the whale calf and then kills it. Though everything we read that weekend was fascinating and informative, I took it all with a grain of salt.

  2. August 13th, 2007 at 14:57 | #2

    Seriously! They definitely are beautiful animals that can be gentle and graceful and whatnot, but that is definitely not their only side. It was really sad to see them kill that baby gray whale because it seemed there were just tormenting it. And the seal throwing? Come on! That is just blatant thuggery. The orca that was going after the tiger shark (both animals are apex predatros)? Apparently just liked the taste of shark liver. Nice.

  3. August 13th, 2007 at 15:37 | #3

    Makes you rethink your perceptions of Shamoo doesn’t it. Next time one is born in captivity I am going to think… great, another punk in the world.

  4. August 13th, 2007 at 15:52 | #4

    Hmm, sound like cats. Only larger. And aquatic.

  5. Kathy
    July 3rd, 2008 at 06:45 | #5

    Get real. This is the food chain and is certainly no worse than seals stalking penquins and great whites stalking anything that moves. It is the food chain and real life in a world we do not understand as we are the predator of all worlds. “Thugs” depends on where you are in the food chain.

  6. Carole
    October 26th, 2008 at 08:45 | #6

    Before you make statements like this, you need to do some research. Yes, there are pods of killer whales who hunt as you stated. BUT it is not all of them. The resident pods of Washington (J,K. and L pods) are fish eaters and follow the salmon runs. They are genetically different that other pods of orcas. They do not eat mammals. And they always return to this area. The ones seen at the Whale Museum on Friday Harbor are the residents, not the transients.

  7. amyyyy
    November 5th, 2008 at 06:29 | #7

    Orcinus Orcas may have gotten a bad rep this time; but seriously; it happens; its like a great white biting off someones leg, i have seen many shark horror movies but how many have their been of killer whales ? there hasnt. this is one of their only flaws; and i think that its probably the worst these whales do. and if that is the worst; so be it. much better then having killer whales kill seals and not eat them; its part of their food source.

  8. Diane
    February 10th, 2009 at 00:19 | #8

    Thanks Kathy, Carole and Kristin. i wonder why it took 3 women to make some reasonable comments? Are we the more logical gender?

  9. February 10th, 2009 at 17:24 | #9

    Wow, this is satire folks. It is supposed to be funny. Anthropomorphizing killer whales is silly. Animals cannot be “jerks” or “thugs,” they cannot be “kind”. They are animals and follow instinct. They know what will kill their prey and they do it.

  1. February 10th, 2009 at 00:13 | #1

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