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Nature & Environment

Plan to use heavy metal music to deter orca attacks could backfire

By T.K. Randall
November 21, 2023 · Comment icon 8 comments

Orcas are still proving a problem for sailors. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Christopher Michel
Sailors off the Iberian coast have been attempting to find ways to protect their boats from being attacked by killer whales.
Earlier this year, we reported on the problem of Iberian orcas deliberately ramming into boats - a phenomenon that began in the waters off Spain and Portugal before spreading elsewhere.

Experts believe that this behavior may have started with an adult female named White Gladis who survived some sort of traumatic event such as being injured by a collision with a boat.

Younger orcas then started to copy her and the trend spread among the population.

These unprovoked attacks have become such a problem that some sailors off the Iberian coast have taken to blasting heavy metal music out of speakers suspended off the sides of their boats in an effort to deter the animals from ramming into them.
So far, though, this method doesn't seem to have been particularly effective.

What's more, according to Andrew Trites - director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia - blasting music could actually have the opposite effect by signalling to the orcas exactly where to find the boats.

"Initially, the playing of loud sounds underwater might mask the signature sounds of sailboats - but ultimately the whales would catch on and use it to more easily locate vessels playing it," he told Business Insider.

"The biggest problem with blasting music underwater of any kind is that it is ultimately just adding more noise pollution to the ocean which can have detrimental effects on other marine life."

Source: Business Insider | Comments (8)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by quiXilver 5 months ago
How unsurprising...
Comment icon #2 Posted by openozy 5 months ago
If any sea creature is a headbanger it's the orca.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Alchopwn 5 months ago
Comment icon #4 Posted by Piney 5 months ago
How stupid...
Comment icon #5 Posted by Vox 5 months ago
Concerningly it could promote a statement of intent... "Let the bodies hit the floor" "Let the bodies hit the floor" "Let the bodies hit the floor" "Let the bodies hit the... FLOOOOOOOOOOOOOR!" For context, the floor is the ship's deck...
Comment icon #6 Posted by Cho Jinn 5 months ago
Some Miley Cyrus Party in the USA might cheer them up.
Comment icon #7 Posted by joshy 5 months ago
The most metal of all cetacean are the killer whales.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Antigonos 5 months ago
Nobody’s asking what band the sailors were blasting. If they tried playing Cinderella to a bunch of Iron Maiden fans of course the boat’s going to get attacked.

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