3 weeks ago
We spend a lot of time here on the blog talking about the powerful relationship between orcas and humans, but the truth is that this impact is felt quite differently from each side.
Think about it – when we venture out from the Victoria harbour into the chilly waters off the coast of British Columbia, we’re visiting their territory. Their turf. And while I believe that orca whales are generally interested in human beings who float by peacefully for a visit, I sure as sugar don’t believe they’re as fascinated by us as we are of them.
Passing curiosity? Sure, I think that’s more accurate.
And if they really wanted to, that slippery line between mutual respect and get-the-heck-outta-my-house could be demolished in a heartbeat.
While there are no documented cases of a human being killed by an orca in the wild, we know it’s possible because it’s happened in captivity in the tragic encounter between Tillikum and Seaworld trainer Dawn Brancheau.
What else has happened out there?
Up above the water in a tiny dinghy surrounded with friends and questionable club music is one thing, down below in the still water surrounded with huge beasts is another. I love this video because it’s inherently amateur – smiles, adventure, techno – until the camera descends below the surface to stare into the eye of a huge orca whale in its natural domain.
Not a first-hand video account, which is understandable because these people had more pressing concerns than flipping open their waterproof camera phones. Part of a compelling documentary released in 2004, “Killers in Eden”, this video and the accounts of the people involved in the event is a chilling reminder of the power of these animals and whether or not they’re foe or ally.
I’ll admit, this one is difficult to watch. Like the videos you’ve seen of seals being tossed into the air or the rabbit running away from the wolf, the fact that these images simply portray the realities of the animal kingdom and the food chain doesn’t make it any easier to watch helpless critters staring down certain death. Fortunately no humans are involved in this encounter, except to capture it. Can you imagine if you got in the middle of an orca shark fight?
This is the most terrifying reminder of all and easily the most excruciating to watch. I can’t believe I once enjoyed the killer whale “exhibit” at the aquarium when I was a kid. These orcas are not playing with the crowd. They’re floating aimlessly and eyeing up the gawkers tank-side. I have no doubt in my mind that these magnificent creatures know exactly what’s happening, even if the human beings on the other side of the glass don’t.
Times, they are a-changing.
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