The prey proves unable to read the mind of the predator

This is what Orcas do to Great White Sharks.

Face it, Orcas are pretty damned metal.

Let’s be honest: as much as we all love a shark, orcas are definitely in with a shout of earning the title of Most Metal Animal In The Sea. Firstly, they’re absolutely massive. Secondly, they feast on other animals. Thirdly, they wear corpsepaint. Fourthly, they’re nicknamed killer whales! The defence rests.

And don’t forget, the Orcas around Spain and Gibraltar have had enough and are out there thrashing yachts for sport.

So somebody came up with the ‘clever’ idea of trying to deter attacks by playing a death metal playlist over underwater microphones. Do you think it worked?

One unexpected tactic that is currently doing the rounds in the marine community is to blast heavy metal at the fearsome sea mammals. According to a new report in the New York Times, Captain Florian Rutsch and his crew found themselves in uncomfortably close proximity to a pod of orcas around the Iberian Peninsula earlier this month, and attempted to drive them off with a specially curated playlist of metal bangers titled Metal For Orcas. The mix included cuts by death metal mainstays such as Aborted, Dying Fetus and Ingested, and was played via an underwater speaker.

Unfortunately for the crew, it didn’t work: the orcas attacked the rudder of their catamaran, causing enough damage to leave the boat stranded and its occupants requiring rescuing via local authorities. Captain Rutsh described the situation as “scary”, adding: “No one knows what works, what doesn’t work.”

Hell no. That was a mix of music that was either going to attract them to a wild party, or was going to enrage them. If you really want to scare away Orcas, I’d recommend trying a mix of Kenny G and Enya first.


  1. says

    I will not stand for this Enya slander. The orcas will find her relaxing so they’ll be more methodical in their yacht fixing. Kenny G, however, might make them drowzy so he’s worth a try.

  2. crivitz says

    The obvious solution to the problem of orcas attacking yachts is to play Yacht Rock on your underwater speakers.

  3. Snarki, child of Loki says

    Okay, my usual suggestion for “most annoying musics” would be Disney’s “It’s a Small World” song on an endless loop, but that would probably drive the Orcas into a homicidal rage in which they try to completely destroy humanity.

    So, recordings of people LEARNING to play violin. Or bagpipes? Probably violates various international rules, but since the Orcas never signed on to the Geneva Conventions, you’d likely be okay.

  4. hemidactylus says

    Play glam metal. The orca will be too busy trying to procure acid wash denim vests, poodle perm wigs, and learning to smoke cigarettes in the boys room that they will be distracted from the boats. They might eventually start harassing ships carrying automobiles in search of early 80s Firebirds and Camaros with louvres and t-top roofs. Good luck with that orcas!

    Or get them into emo so they become too jaded and cynical and stop caring about the boats preferring to mope about and roll their eyes at pod leaders. They might wind up sinking a shipment of clothing bound for Hot Topic. And some might start listening to Morrissey, stop attacking sharks for their liver because “Meat is Murder”, and eat kelp and other seaweed instead. Unfortunately they will adopt Morrissey’s right wing politics and we will have worse problems down the road than a few busted up yachts.

  5. vinnievidivici says

    I have a hypothesis…

    Orcas are pissed at these yachts (and other boats, I imagine, but it’s funny that the yachts get all the attention) because the boats are misbehaving. They’re scaring off prey, or getting into feeding grounds and—from the orca’s point of view—competing for seals and (apparently) sharks. Maybe they get too close to the younglings. It doesn’t matter. Whatever a top predator, the “wolves of the sea,” care about, those vessels are interfering with it.

    Now, what do orca and other members of the dolphin family do when a member is misbehaving? They nip the flukes of the offender, among other things. Have you noticed that the orca seem to preferentially go after the rudders? That’s just a fluke on this weird, one-fluked, noisy, smelly, misbehaving critter. So they’ve started nipping it, trying to tell us to knock off whatever it is we’re doing.

  6. brucej says

    Let me get this straight…they’re trying to drive away creatures who are banging their heads on your yacht, by playing headbanger music?

    And they’re attacking craft other than yachts, but it appears sailboats are preferentially attacked (paywalled but I can’t be arsed to log into my work vpn to access through my institution ) I suspect sailboats, which have a distinctly different behavior and sound in the ocean, may well be the trigger in line with vinnividivici’s hypothesis @9 above.

  7. garnetstar says

    Aren’t animals great?

    I saw a video of a touron (tourist+moron) at Yellowstone screaming abuse at a bull elk from his car (why??). He was angrily going on and on, and the elk walked up to the car, but I suppose couldn’t get his head into it to gore the guy.

    So, the elk lowered his head and with one skilful move of his horns, punctured the car tire. Then calmly walked away!

    Go animals! I think that more of them should fight back.

  8. wzrd1 says

    If I were having to navigate those waters in a small watercraft, the obvious solution is to serenade them with an operetta in the key of orca sonar.
    I suspect that anything that fucks with their sonar would tend to drive them away – especially if it’s just loud enough to do so only when close.

    A second alternative is a proximity mime, but mimes tend to dislike performing underwater.

    Although, if competing for a shark, I really don’t see too much conflict. Other than the tail meat, which would be a bit of a conflict over, their preference appears to be abdominal organs, to which they’re welcome. I’ll share the leftovers, as I’m far from greedy and don’t eat shark all that often, more of an opportunistic thing.
    And pure hell on a knife edge… :/
    Oh well, that’s why I keep a couple of sets of good sharpening stones on hand.

    Third alternative is a flexible rudder, a rubber rudder if you will. It’ll bend, but not break, but still give good steerage at a slightly lower efficiency.

    This means war mode involves bubble lines, which cetaceans hate. I generate more than enough gas to power a set for a week or so. ;)

  9. VolcanoMan says

    @ Snarki #7

    I submit that there is no more annoying sound than that of a child learning to play the clarinet. That would be a very effective HUMAN repellent, to be sure, but I think the high-pitched squeaks and squeals of the novice clarinetist would create a halo around any boat that played such a recording, within which no marine mammal life would be found.

    Alternatively, such sonic neural ablation could convey a very different message to an orca – a mating call. So this kind of strategy could ultimately backfire.

  10. unclefrogy says

    is it all the orca in the area or is it a particular pod or part of a pod that is attacking the boats?
    I am thinking about the story of the pod of Orca that “herded ” whales for the whalers and shared in the kill for years until someone attacked them. It was a particular pod that engaged in that could it be something like that here. If so I do not see how to reverse that without a genocide of some kind ?
    the stupid and ignorant ones in these encounters are not the ocas.

  11. wzrd1 says

    DanDare, as at least one pod involved is doing so right at the entry to a port, do we close and raze the port itself? Or just keep the port and fire all of the now redundant employees?

  12. whheydt says

    If the yacht in question was running under sail, then the crew were incompetent. When I was a student, the Cal sailing club used to practice sailing without touching the tiller to simulate sailing without a rudder. The best way to be rescued is to know how to rescue yourself.

  13. microraptor says

    If they really want to repel the orcas with music, I suggest country. Especially the jingoistic garbage from the 00s.

  14. says

    A second alternative is a proximity mime, but mimes tend to dislike performing underwater.


    Perhaps run-of-the-mill mimes — the kind one finds on street corners near performing-arts schools — might dislike performing underwater. But egotistical mimes would want to show their true mastery by not just walking against the wind, but swimming against the waves. (Which isn’t entirely underwater, I suppose, but then realism in mime performance seems an unrealistic expectation.)

    • • •

    Although I do not appreciate the orca on occasion going after fellow members of the bar, I must applaud their thoroughness and evisceration technique, and sincerely hope that they’re going after the Tom Girardis and John Eastmans of C. carcharias.

  15. Walter Solomon says

    Aren’t they dolphins rather than whales? Could a single orca take a sperm whale in a street fight?

  16. lasius says

    @Walter Solomon

    Aren’t they dolphins rather than whales?

    Yes, they are dolphins, but all dolphins are whales.


    They’re scaring off prey, or getting into feeding grounds and—from the orca’s point of view—competing for seals and (apparently) sharks.

    There are no seals anymore. The Mediterranean monk seal, a close relative of the Hawaiian and the recently extinct Caribbean Monk seal, is basically extinct itself.

  17. lasius says

    @Walter Solomon

    Yes, that’s what cladistics is all about. Just like all apes are monkeys but not vice versa, all bees are wasps but not vice versa and all tortoises are turtles but not vice versa.