For an animal with the word "killer" in its name, people tend to picture killer whales as gentle giants. Movies like Free Willy have managed to brand orcas as giant ocean puppy dogs, but the reality could not be any less adorable. Let's face it, killer whales are jerks.
Despite what most people think, orcas tend to be much more like Jaws than Shamu. They are carnivores that use their intelligence and communication skills to dominate the ocean as apex predators. A group of aggressive orcas can take down any threat, and a few people have even been killed by these vicious monsters. So yes, most killer whales are mean killer whales. But that’s just nature, right? Surely killer whales aren’t actually sadistic a-holes who murder for pleasure and bathe in the blood of infants, right?
You might believe that, if you didn’t know all of these horrible killer whale facts that will make you think twice about swimming in the ocean. It’s not the sharks you need to worry about, but the massive marine mammals who will tear you limb from limb while laughing with glee.
They Murder And Eat Baby Whales
First off, let's talk about their dietary choices. While most large whales tend to subsist off of measly krill, orcas like to munch on the babies of their closest relatives. They usually do this by attacking a calf and its mother as a group, aiming to separate the young whale from its mom. They will ram the calf to cause massive internal injuries or force them under the water until they drown. This all happens right next to the panicked mother, who will try desperately to save her baby. Sometimes she is successful, but often she is not.
Even Great White Sharks Are Victims Of These A-Holes
While great whites often get the credit for being the most bada*s fish in the sea, even they can't stand toe to toe against a full grown orca. In May of 2017, a series of dead great whites began washing up on the beaches of South Africa. It wasn't long before orcas became the primary suspect in this bizarre killings.
The sharks had some very specific injuries that were as brutal as they were precise. All of them had their livers removed with extreme skill, and some of the sharks even had their testicles ripped off. It is believed that the whales go for the livers because they are densely packed with essential nutrients.
One Whale Was Responsible For The Deaths Of Three People
In 2013, the documentary Blackfish premiered and changed the public's perception of captive orcas forever. For decades, the killer whales of Seaworld were the primary draw for the zoo/amusement park hybrid. But the prison-like nature of the orcas captivity led to a total breakdown for one of their star orcas, Tilikum.
Tilikum was the subject of the documentary and made national news after killing one of his trainers. Tilikum was responsible for three deaths in his lifetime. The first was an employee at a now defunct marine park known as Sealand, a place where Tilikum was kept in appalling conditions. He was eventually sold to Seaworld to play the role of Shamu, and it was there that he claimed his next two victims. One was Dawn Brancheau, a star orca trainer at Seaworld. Captivity induced stress is believed to be the cause of Tilikum's aggressive behavior, and Seaworld has since put an end to their orca breeding program.
Lovable Dolphins, Their Closest Relatives, Are Also On The Menu
Nothing ruins a childhood like the site of an orca eating a dolphin, but unfortunately it's a common occurrence. Dolphins are agile creatures, but they are no match for the hunting instincts of a pack of hungry orcas. Orcas will stun dolphins by slamming into them at full speed, giving them an opportunity to grab hold of the dolphin before it can come to and swim away. The force is often great enough to jettison the poor dolphin completely out of the water.