ALASKA — Fishermen out in Alaska are finding themselves having to deal with a new threat to their fishing hauls, in the form of killer whales.
Recently, the pods of predators have been observed targeting individual boats, and waiting hours for the fish to pile up. Once the fishermen are ready to call it quits, that’s when tens of orcas swim in to swipe the catch. A fisherman interviewed by the National Post likened the shakedown to the methods of a motorcycle gang.
The fishermen who’ve been victimized by the whales new tactics say not only do they get stalked by the whales, they sometimes get chased back to port. Using electronic noisemakers was one disruption technique employed to shoo them away, but the orcas now hear it as a dinner bell. The fishermen also report they’ve seen more juveniles whales, which could indicate the whales are already passing on these strategies to their young as a source of food.
The increased incidence of whale thieving in the area is being attributed to populations rebounding following a moratorium on commercial whaling in the 1990s. Killer whales are socially advanced creatures as well as expert hunters, known to invent their own hunting strategies and share useful information amongst their pods.