Killer Whales Are Hunting Fishing Boats As Prey
Within the Western Alaskan waters, studies show 1,475 killer whales, which can grow up to 11 tons, race at speeds of 30 mph, and can operate in pods that have been seen totaling 78 whales, have begun to recognize fishing boats for what they are: easy dinner.
Killer whales are skilled hunters, NOAA fisheries biologist John Moran said. They can tell the sounds of different boats and even learn the sounds of the hydraulic system that lowers the fishing gear into the water.
The National Post notes that orcas have been known to adapt their hunting strategies to particular regions within their “remarkably complex social structures.”
They study the patterns of their environment, and they adapt.
They are now targeting specific boats, fisherman Jeff Kauffman said in a phone interview. Juvenile whales are now beginning to appear and it seems as if their mothers are teaching them how to hunt the lines of these boats.
Alaskan longline fishermen can harvest close to 30,000 lbs of Halibut and Black Cod in a single day. They are finding their hooks stripped clean, sometimes the lips of halibut still attached – if anything remains – the equivalent of $1,000 per day to these fisherman.
In a letter to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, fisherman Robert Hanson describes how he used 4,000 gallons of gas trying to outrun a pod before losing 12,000 lbs of fish to these intelligent predators.
Hanson has been working in the Bering Sea since 1992. He says the orca problem has become “systemic” in recent years. There are more pods present, he said, and the animals are getting more aggressive.
Herbert, captain of the Aleutian Sable says the orca plundering is the worst he has seen in 39 years. They have even tried to use a sonar that emits a frequency designed to drive these whales away, only to find instead it now acts as a dinner bell.
How do you expect these whales to resist when you are literally dangling thousands of pounds of fish right in front of their noses?