Killer whales attack as nature fights back

Rogue pod: experts think Orcas might be seeking revenge against humans.

Is nature angry? Groups of orcas have been seen surrounding boats in the Atlantic. To some, it is a sign that the planet is fighting back after years of being treated badly by humans.

What’s happening

The crew looked at the shapes in the sea. At first they thought it must be a group of dolphins. Then, the creatures began to swim closer. Their famous black and white markings were clear in the waves.

The people on the boat knew what they were seeing. It was a pod of orcas.

Find out more

Orcas are better known as killer whales. They get the name because they are powerful predators that hunt dolphins, whales – and even great white sharks. Growing up to eight metres long, they travel in big packs known as pods.

This summer, pods of killer whales have been spotted following nearly 40 different sailing boats.

For those on board, it was very scary. The huge animals followed one boat and bumped the side of it for over 40 minutes.

Some say that the orcas are attacking people on purpose. They think that the animals are seeking revenge on humans for damaging the planet.

But one expert called Renaud de Stephanis is less sure. He says they are probably just young killer whales “playing”.

Is nature fighting back?

Some say…

No. We should not project our own emotions onto creatures too much – it blurs the line between fantasy and scientific understanding. What we must learn is that the world is a big living system and we are part of it. Our best hope for the future is to try and understand how we affect it and try to reverse the damage we have already caused.

Others think…

It could be. It is not just orcas causing problems for humans. Each year, the weather is more extreme. There have been floods and wildfires that damage people’s homes and the environment. If we see this as a sign of Earth fighting back, it might make us work harder to fix the problems we have made.

You Decide

  1. Is it wrong to imagine creatures with human feelings?

Activities

  1. Write a story about the boat attacks from an orca’s point of view. Explain why you and your friends have been following boats around.

Some People Say...

“Anything built by man can be destroyed by Mother Nature.”

Russel Honoré, US army commander who organised help for people affected by Hurricane Katrina.

What do you think?

Word Watch

Orcas
People have feared orcas for hundreds of years. They are named after Orcus, the Roman god of death.
Predators
An animal that hunts other animals for food. Orcas are known as apex predators, which means that there are no other animals that hunt them.
Seeking revenge
To try to get even or pay somebody back for something that has happened in the past.
Damaging
To damage is to destroy or harm something. Humans have made a big impact on the environment. Global warming and farming mean that thousands of animals are dying out around the world. Climate change is also making weather more extreme – there are more droughts and storms.
Fantasy
Something that is made up or imagined.
Reverse
To reverse means to move backwards. When people talk about “reversing climate change”, they mean to undo or turn back the damage that has been done.

Subjects

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