killer whales eating people

Why don’t wild orcas (a.k.a. killer whales) attack and eat divers? They eat fish, dolphins, seals, whales… pretty much whatever they catch. But I’ve only heard of one attack (in the wild), and the whale just mouthed the guy and spit him out without seriously injuring him. They’re freindly in captivity (usually), but they get plenty to eat there and even the ones that hurt people seem to be motivated by agression as oppossed to any hunting instinct.
Why don’t they try to eat people? Do we really taste that bad?

You seem to be asking why we don’t hear about orca attacks as much as, say, shark attacks. A few observations:

  1. There are more sharks in the ocean than orcas.

  2. Orcas tend to inhabit colder climates, where very few people swim. A shark in Southern California waters has countless surfers and swimmers to feast upon. An orca in Puget sound isn’t going to have as full a plate.

  3. Humans aren’t ordinary prey for any sea animals. From below a surfer or swimmer on the surface can be mistaken for a sea lion. This is probably the reason for most shark attacks (sharks attack from below). Orcas, on the other hand, attack on the surface and are less likely to mistake a person for a sea mammal.

  4. Death by animal predation is extremely rare whether at sea or elsewhere.

Read Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage (by Alfred Lansing) about Sir Ernest Shackleton’s antarctic misadventure. While drifting on ice floes for several months the crew was forced to fight off orcas several times when they were mistaken for seals. Apparently the orcas would propel themselves up onto the ice such that crew members would have to make a run for it to avoid being eaten. Yikes!

Also you don’t hear about it as much because the orcas are intelligent and evil. They know better than to leave witnesses. Their agents in the Sea Parks of the world, and the Free Willy movies they financed (with recovered sunken pirate gold [don’t ask too loudly how some of those ships sank]) are part of their plot to lull us into a false sense of security. As soon as enough people believe that “Killer Whales” are harmless and friendly they will close their trap. I think the dolphins have an involvement in this, for revenge for the tuna industry…

{time to take off the ol’ tin-foil hat}

Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
“You cannot reason a man out of a position that he did not use reason to reach.”

I hear that killer whales don’t eat people because they taste like chicken.

It only hurts when I laugh.

Nah…Humans taste like pork. And Killer whales are Kosher. :stuck_out_tongue:

>>while contemplating the navel of the universe, I wondered, is it an innie or outie?<<

—The dragon observes

I don’t know about humans tasting bad. I just keep remembering a Far Side cartoon that had two alligators sunning themselves amidst the wreckage of a canoe.

One of them is patting itself on the stomach, and it says “Man, that was great. No hooves, no horns or claws. Just all soft and pink.”

According to a Marine Biologist I know who works at a seaquarium on Maui, we (humans) taste bad. That is why a majority of people live through shark attacks with a single bite to mark the occasion. The shark takes one bite, presumably because it mistakes a human on a surfboard for a seal, and thinks it is the worst thing he’s ever tasted and doesn’t come back for seconds. I don’t know why a Killer Whale wouldn’t make the same mistake… Possibly for the reasons stated (we don’t swim very much in arctic waters) or that they are smarter than sharks and have a better grasp on what they are about to take a chunk out of. I will see if I can find out for sure about Kwhales…

Like the man says; don’t take life too seriously, you’ll never get out of it alive – Bugs Bunny

Did a marine biologist really tell you that we taste bad? I believe this is really just a hypothesis that has been advanced to account for one-bite shark attacks, but there is no evidence to support it. In fact, it is unlikely that sharks, which have been around for millions of years without evolving much, have adapted their behavior to the relatively recent appearance of human swimmers in the water.

More likely, this is just part of a shark’s normal instinctive behavior: bite, swim away, circle around, and attack again after the creature has weakened from bleeding. If you’re a human being with the wherewithall to climb back into the boat or get yourself to shore, you have a shot at surviving.

CFQ you are correct. That is exactly how sharks kill. They take one bite and wait for the victim to bleed to death.

Most everyone else’s comments are pretty accurate too. Orca’s have been know to attack men on ice floats and attacks by wild animals on humans are not as common as believed.

Probably the main reason - Orcas inhabit deep water, and humans in the ocean are almost always in shallow water. The vast majority of shark attacks occur in pretty shallow water.

dhanson-I don’t think I would agree with that[orcas in deep water]. I’ve seen plenty of video of orcas plucking seals off the beach. Imagine what a resort beach filled with wading humans would seem like, although they seem to prefer cold water where people don’t swim. I would think that they’re smart enough to know humans aren’t a natural food source.

There was one nominee for the Darwin award at SeaWorld Orlando earlier this summer IIRC. It is believed that he hid out in a bathroom, & then did the “free” version of the Swim With Shamu program. They found his body the next morning uneaten.

Heard this on a morning radio show, so I can’t swear it’s not UL…

Sue from El Paso

Are you sure you saw Orcas pulling seals off of a beach, or did they pull them off of rocks? Plucking a seal off of a beach would mean the Orca would have to skid itself up a long stretch of sand less than 3 feet deep.

Rocky shorelines often have deep water immediately off the shore. Your typical beach (especially one where humans hang out) has a gradually sloping surface that stays very shallow for a long way out.

Great Whites are here in Marin County. Great White capital of the world. Their Mode of Operandus is to take 1 big bite out of their prey and let them bleed to death. See my WEB site

The guy that died in the tank in Orlando presumably drowned. There was no blunt trauma found on him. SeaWorld keeps that tank at about 50 degrees and the guy was very drunk. Between the hypothermia and the alcohol, he was doomed. His body was found on the orca’s back. The whale (aren’t they really a species of dolphin?) thought he was a new toy.

The Orcas did pull the seal pups off a sloping beach. As IRC these particular Orcas are a small group that exhibit this predation technique and time their visits to coinside <sp?> with the pups swimming lessons. It is amazing to watch them rush up the surf line, grap a pup and flop themselves with pup in mouth back to deeper water. Often they will play with the pup like a cat to a mouse, prior to consuming it. To really make you hate the Orcas, the cameraman would tape the mothers watching and wailing. Makes you glad to be a apex predator :slight_smile:


A point in every direction is like no point at all

I wish I had tape rolling on one special. The killer whale came rushing up on shore at full speed (it looked like a H/K submarine surfacing at full blow). It grabbed a seal pup, tossed it into the air to get a better bite and then struggled mightily to get back into the water (it was 90% ‘beached’)

The rumor going around Seaworld is that they found the guy’s testicles, trunks and wrist watch at the bottom of the pool. The newsies initially reported that there were no bite marks, but after a few days, they mentioned that there was indeed a bite (and I quote) “to the front of his lower torso” (end quote).

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dhanson-as others have posted, it wasn’t a rock drop off. IIRC, it was in Patagonia. Stephon/Oblio-yeah, I thought it was pretty impressive too, watching the orca barrel into the shore. Glad it wasn’t me he was after. I’ve seen this video on the Discovery Channel a few times. Has any body seen the orca vs. Great White video shot off California? Hard to tell what going on, but supposedly the orca kicked the shark’s ass. Maybe it was too big for the shark…or too smart.

Unless an orca is sick, it won’t have any problem with sharks. They can (literally) swim circles around just about anything in the ocean (excepting dolphins, of course).