All about a 100-year-old partnership between orcas and humans. | Gallery Drinkware (Formerly Water Gallery)

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A 100-year-old partnership between orcas and humans

Long ago, in the early 1900s, a macabre yet somehow touching relationship was formed between a group of Australian whale hunters and a pod of orcas. The humans and the killer whales would work together and share the task of hunting and killing baleen whales. They'd share the work of bringing down the huge beasts and reap the spoils mutually: the orcas, who are the ocean's top predators, would eat the faces (grisly, indeed) of the baleen whales and the human whale hunters would then haul the rest of the carcasses to shore to be harvested for their blubber. "The orcas were like members of the family," says Greg McKee, a filmmaker whose research on this subject was made into a documentary called Killers in Eden. The relationship between the humans and the orcas was surprisingly tender and compassionate-- the humans would free any orcas that may get caught in the whale hunting ropes and the orcas would protect human hunters from sharks if they were to tumble out of the whaling boats, which happened somewhat frequently.

A pod of orcas

Of course it can't be ignored that this is a horrible story when you think of what was happening to the baleen whales. That's unquestionably wrong. But it's nonetheless a fascinating account of the only documented story ever of man and orca working together like this. And there's never been a story like it since, with humans and animals coming together for a mutually beneficial end result. The bottom line is, orcas don't naturally hunt humans in the wild and in these unusual circumstances, the orcas actually became partners with the humans. Truly amazing creatures.

6 comments

Feb 10, 2016 • Posted by Kasee Johnson

It’s amazing what can happen when people stop insisting that they are the absolute top of the food chain and that nothing else matters. Working WITH nature is a win-win situation.

Feb 10, 2016 • Posted by Linda Gonzales

Orcas are such majestic animals and yet still so misunderstood. They are without a doubt the most aggressive towards other animals in the ocean, but yet there is no record of them ever harming a human in the wild. Just insane.

Feb 09, 2016 • Posted by Constance Jones

In Sebastian Inlet we have a mother Right whale and her calf getting help as I speak to
free them from a sand bar. They are healthy and hopefully they will be free soon. The ocean and the sea creatures are my soul.

Feb 09, 2016 • Posted by Brittany

Very cool how animals and humans team up. They are intelligent creatures and fascinating to watch.

Feb 09, 2016 • Posted by Celeste McWilliams

Just the words “the relationship between the humans and the orcas” touch a wonderful nerve. If you’ve ever looked into the eyes of an orca, you just KNOW there’s higher intelligence looking back at you. Incredible feeling!

Feb 09, 2016 • Posted by Amanda Burke

This is amazing to know that there is a true story about humans and orcas working together especially when they would protect them from the sharks but makes me question though, why were they attacking baleen whales?

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