Just how smart are killer whales? Well, new studies are discovering that instead of going out and hunting for food, they figured out they can target individual fishing boats and are leading anglers on high-speed chases to get away from them.
According to National Post, orcas will hangout around fishing boats all day and then steal any halibut that get hooked on their line. Fishermen have even reported orcas relentlessly stalking their boats, sometimes forcing them to call off a fishing trip all together.
“We’ve been chased out of the Bering Sea,” said Paul Clampitt, Washington State-based co-owner of the F/V Augustine.
Some vessels have tried using electronic noisemakers to thwart off the animals, but their plans sort of backfired.
“It became a dinner bell,” Clampitt said.
The Anchorage Daily News highlighted a few instances in which aggressive killer whales would relentlessly harass boats – even refusing to leave after a desperate skipper cut his engine and drifted in silence for 18 hours.
“It’s gotten completely out of control,” Alaska fisherman Jay Hebert told the paper.
Fishermen are losing thousands of dollars in fish stolen by orcas alone, but the amount of fuel they burn trying to outrun them is a serious problem.
Below is a video of a pod of orcas chasing after a boat to give you a sense of what it might look like to be stalked by these animals on the open water: