Captain’s Blog

4 Lessons Orcas Can Teach Us About Life on Land

September 16, 2015

Human beings often fall into the trap of learning how to live and operate from other human beings. It makes sense, we all speak the same language (sort of).

But there’s another creature from which we can learn, an animal possessing intelligence we have yet to fully understand.

Orca whales have survived for centuries in the waters off British Columbia’s west coast. At first glance the challenges faced by Orcas seem vastly different from ours, but if you take a closer look, we’re not so far off.

We’re both looking for food and we both benefit from the support of our families.

1. Family Values

Orcas are an incredibly social animal. They live with their families just like we do and they even recognize extended families such as cousins and aunts and uncles. Orcas stay with their mother for their entire lives, at the very least ravelling nearby when they have sons and daughters of their own to care for.

Clans and communities near Vancouver Island support each other and to make sure each individual is fed and cared for. Sounds like a valuable lesson, right?

2. Teamwork

“Each whale has a role. It’s like a ballet, so they have to move in a very coordinated way and communicate and make decisions about what to do next.”

That’s Tiu Similä in a July, 2015 interview with National Geographic.

Similä is describing a typical Orca hunting routine called the carousel, a deadly tactic used to herd silver herring like sheep.

Orca whales, though their unique languages and behaviour, work together to accomplish tasks such as hunting and migrating. Each whale shares its talents with others to serve the greater good.

3. Respecting Our Environment

There’s no outward behaviour exhibited by Orcas that represents environmental respect other than the fact these animals live and travel through a habitat human beings take for granted.

It’s understandable, we live on land, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of the ocean we don’t see. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be learned if we peak a little closer.

Orca whales thrive in a harsh environment. Their migration patterns are dictated by the presence of food, changing water temperatures (and other reasons). They work with what they have while under the constant threat of human interference.

Well, human beings are under the threat of interference as well – from ourselves. We only have one earth, just like the Orca whale only has one ocean, and it’s up to us to preserve it.

4. The Threat of Captivity

There’s an astounding difference between Orca whales stagnating in captivity and those thriving in their wild, natural habitat.

In the wild, the Orca whale is one part of a powerful family unit, a pod that sticks together through thick and thin. Captivity is no place for a wild animal, just like it’s no place for a human being not paying for a crime.

There’s nothing to challenge the intelligent mind that’s tossed dead food twice a day in exchange for tricks. Just like human beings, the mind of a mammal is one that’s meant to be tested and improved through natural challenges.

And while our challenges might differ, humans and Orcas share a common bond, a need for the basic necessities of life. We’re not meant to spend our lives in close quarters against our will.

Whether on land or in the sea, life is a long-lasting test, a challenge to overcome. Good thing we have such powerful neighbours from which we can borrow tips and tricks from time to time.

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