Saturday, December 9, 2017

Orcas Take the (fish)Cake

One hears some fishy tales in the Tavern but this one takes the cake. We get the occasional pod of Orcas in the waters near my cave mouth but they are more usually found elsewhere. Like Alaska, for instance. And it was from there that we heard of some smart fishy goings on. Actually Orcas aren't 'fish' but a member of the dolphin family - and just as smart it seems.

Christian Cotroneo  stopped by and regaled us with the tale.
Killer whales are hunting fishing boats like prey
There's new kind of pirate plying the waters off the coast of Alaska.
Fishing boats are coming under attack by an unlikely band of marauders bent on stealing their cargo.
Killer whales have reportedly been zeroing in on boats from the Gulf of Alaska to Aleutian Island to the Bering Sea — sometimes trailing them for days on end. 
And when those nets are teeming with the day’s catch, they make their move, sawing through twine and feasting on the cargo.
 It happens elsewhere too, mind you, and with smaller boats too. We just don't often get to hear of it here.
In a letter to North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, fisherman Robert Hanson described a particularly precarious encounter, as reported in the Alaska Dispatch News.
Closer to us here we saw a New Zealander getting quite terse and using ripe terms for the thieving big orcas.
The seasoned captain noted that he lost / spent 4,000 gallons of gas trying to outrun a pod of whales last month — even drifting silently for 18 hours — before losing 12,000 pounds to his net-gnawing pursuers.
Age-old method
And the whales, which can grow up to 11 tons and race at speeds of 30 miles per hour, don’t respond to noisemakers either. 
In fact, the electronic horns designed to disperse them have become siren calls … for supper.
“It became a dinner bell,” 
fishing boat operator Paul Clampitt told the National Post.
Killer whales, famed for their complex and patient hunting techniques, follow the beleaguered boats, encircling and harassing the vessel, much like a "motorcycle gang," fisherman John McHenry told the newspaper.
"You’d see two of them show up, and that’s the end of the trip. 
Pretty soon all 40 of them would be around you," 
he said.
The shakedowns have taken a heavy toll on the Alaskan fishing industry, with a University of Alaska study suggesting that commercial anglers lose as much as $1,000 per day to the pirating pods.
So what’s driving whales to a life of plunder and pillage? It’s possible they were inspired by sperm whales — behemoths that have been vexing fishing boats for decades.
The biggest factor, however, may not be a dearth of fish in the ocean, but rather an abundance of intelligence on the whale’s part.
Quite simply, they’re studying patterns in their environment.

As John Moran, a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explained to the Alaska Dispatch News, they’re adapting — and getting richly rewarded for it.
The orcas, he noted, distinguish between types of boats, even recognizing the drone of a hydraulic system, as it lowers nets into the water.
They follow tourist boats too, presumably hoping someone falls overboard.

Who can resist the temptation for a little fast food? Especially when it’s being dangled, literally, in front of their noses.
All sounds very fishy to me, but I gave Christian a pint anyway.



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  2. These large marine mammals are perhaps more intelligent than humans ;-)

    They have learned how to get an easy meal :-)

    1. Not more intelligent. A tad smarter than the average haddock perhaps, but I would look to their politics. They are turning 'liberal': entitlement junkies wanting free meals without the effort of hunting for them, but instead waiting for men to do the hard work and then taking it from them. Orca tax?

    2. Sometimes an Orca is just an Orca ;-)

  3. Neat to see them spyhopping and breaching.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..