Nature & Environment
Plan to use heavy metal music to deter orca attacks could backfire
By T.K. Randall
November 21, 2023 · 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
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