They’re learning

Finally, the whales have had enough. Orcas have sunk 3 boats off the coast of Spain. All it took was one innovative revolutionary who decided she’d had enough, and then her fellows took notice and realized they don’t have to take it.

Experts suspect that a female orca they call White Gladis suffered a “critical moment of agony” — a collision with a boat or entrapment during illegal fishing — that flipped a behavioral switch. “That traumatized orca is the one that started this behavior of physical contact with the boat,” López Fernandez said.

Orcas are social creatures that can easily learn and reproduce behaviors performed by others, according to the 2022 study. In the majority of reported cases, orcas have made a beeline for a boat’s rudder and either bitten, bent or broken it.

I’m surprised that whales of all species hadn’t taken action centuries ago, when humans started exterminating them wholesale.

Unfortunately, the next lesson they’ll learn is that humans are vengeful and vicious and don’t take kindly to anything challenging their dominion.


  1. StevoR says

    Try swimming with these dolphins eh!

    (Do I need to say don’t..)

    (Well, close relatives and members of the same Delphinidae family anyhow.)

    Sadly, yes, I fear this won’t end well for a species that already has a bad reputation. Conservation status for them is listed as “data deficient” which surprises me.)

  2. hemidactylus says

    An animal that finds sport in feasting upon great white shark livers is not something to take lightly. Reminded of particular set of skills in Taken.

  3. wzrd1 says

    Interestingly, mostly sail craft. To make a guess, they likely figured out that ramming into operating screws is injurious.
    Attacks typically stop once the rudder is disabled, immobilizing the craft.

    Perhaps it might be worthwhile to dispatch the sail craft USS Constitution to the area. We’d learn what the Orcas do for headaches.
    Yeah, that’s about as unlikely as my really giving a damn about a few damaged yachts.
    As for the claimed reason for the attacks, less than even pure speculation. For all we know, a new type of depthfinder sonar is in use that’s exceptionally annoying to that species.
    The most likely response will likely be killing them, rather than investigating a possible cause. It’s decidedly odd that they attack yachts preferentially over fishing vessels the same size. I’d be unsurprised to learn that poaching was involved in one of the young by one of the damaged or sunken craft. That’s been repeatedly recorded throughout history with that species. Complete with recognizing specific craft and crewmembers.
    It’s one of the things I like about that species.

  4. christoph says

    @ Cervantes, # 10: Moby Dick was based on a true story about whalers operating out of Cape Cod. One expedition had their ship destroyed by whales after the whalers killed one of their pod. They escaped in lifeboats, drifted in the open sea for a long time and had to resort to cannibalism to survive. (I learned about this from an episode of “Ask a Mortician” on YouTube.)

  5. says

    Also, I’d recommend the movie In the Heart of the Sea, which tells the tale of the events that inspired Herman Melville. It was a box office bomb, but I enjoyed it — but then, I’m a huge fan of Moby Dick.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    I would cheerfully trade some Spanish fishing boats along with fishermen for more Hitchiker novels.
    Multiverse gateway? The white laboratory mice in the first novel would have no problems with the math.

    wzrd1 @ 17
    That was “Swordfish*” not overgrown dolphins.
    *with canvas wings.

  7. wzrd1 says

    Oh, a bit more cetacean trivia. The nuclear armed powers possess the only sperm oil reserves currently on the planet, with the largest remaining in US possession. Sperm oil being critical in gun type fission bombs as a lubricant for the uranium slug.

    birgerjohansson, swordfish is tasty, save if it has canvas wings. A bit too much iron is delivered by the latter and can result easily in iron overload.
    Although, after such an iron overload, one does travel in the best circles.

  8. vinnievidivici says

    Speculating on the orcas’ methods a little, don’t delphenidae and other cetaceans bite the flippers of naughty younglings? That may be why they go after the rudders of sailboats. They’d go after the rudders of powerboats, too, were it not for the whirling blades right next to them.

    As to their motivations; totally understandable.