For many years off the Alaskan coast in the Bering Sea, fishermen are contending with killer whales that both stalk their ships and even manage to steal their catch. This behaviour can total tens of thousands of pounds lost halibut and cod. However in the past several decades, in line with Alaska Dispatch News, the situation has apparently gotten worse. That is because heaps of killer whales appear to be assaulting special boats, even eating their grab and also threatening some fishermen’s livelihoods.

“It is a lot similar to a gangland battle,” one colleague told that the Dispatch News, while the other compared to the whales to a “motorcycle gang” in a interview with the National Post.

The whales are assaulting longliners, fishermen that utilize a single line with many pins that is propped over the water from buoys, a condition that likely reflects a welcoming buffet for whales. The whales have been repetitive, surrounding 1 vessel for hours as a result of its captain who had shut off the engine.

There has been some similar behaviour captured in the BBC Sea Planet documentary, which may be available on BBC iPlayer – blocked in some areas abroad but here’s a workaround.

“You would observe two of these appear which is the ending of the excursion,” John McHenry, owner of this F/V Seymour, told that the Article (F/V, of course, represents fishing boat). “Pretty soon all of 40 of these are around you”

What exactly are the options open to them? Fishermen have tried sonars developed to discourage the whales, however, people who have not functioned. Many have resorted to using tanks, or bows, to capture fish, but this approach might be costly and it isn’t allowed for a few sorts of fish in some specific national fisheries.  The reality is that in this situation the whales really have the advantage, the fisherman mostly just hope to avoid their attention.

It’s an interesting situation, however there is a worrying side to this.  After being devastated for years, the whale populations globally are beginning to recover.  Much of this is to do with public opinion and the co-operation of governments and fishermen.  If economic damage is seen to increase then public opinion may turn against the whales in the areas of society where it’s really crucial.

Further Reading

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