Monday, March 8, 2010

Orcas

We got into a pissing contest a week ago about whether killer whales were moral. A consensus was not reached. A couple of evenings ago I was watching a Discovery Channel program on orcas. One of the scientists has been studying the same pod for years, New Zealand I believe. Anyway, long enough that not only did she recognize the individuals, they knew her. There were great white sharks in the area. In general they seemed to avoid each other, or at least worked different niches. One day a large shark wandered into orca territory. There was a splashing about and an orca swam over to the boat and presented the dead shark to the people like a cat showing off a dead mouse. Later they got in the water and filmed how they dealt with the shark, which would seem to be more than a match for the orca. The orca flips the shark over on it's back, which causes "tonic immobility", a type of paralysis. They just hold them until the shark drowns because it isn't moving forward, which is how it gets water over it's gills.The shark is beautifully equipped with a couple of million years of evolution, but it does not learn. I have no idea how those orca's learned to deal with sharks, but they did and they apparently "teach" each other technique.  They are very intelligent, which makes me admire them, and it makes The Rev hate them, because they do seem to know better.

This just in! Reading something this morning. This is humanoid stuff, but maybe eventually we'll know about orca morals too. We may have to change their nicknames to Jerk Asshole Whales after all:
"Meanwhile evolutionary psychologists and anthropologists like Marc Hauser, at Harvard University, are studying moral behavior with such precision that they are able to pinpoint the parts of the brain involved in ration-al thinking, emotional reactions, and motivations. And, as always, the context is Darwinian. Why did natural selection push things this way rather than some other way?"

11 comments:

reverend dick said...

Asholes. That shark was just hanging out, being all chill doing his thing, and these meatheads came up and bullied him.

Seriously, they are jerks.

Gunnar Berg said...

The consensus has still not been reached.

Anonymous said...

They don't call 'em Tolerant Whales...or Nice Whales..or anything. Let's not project Human expectations onto ocenagoing mammals. At least not until we-all do a bettr job of living up to those expectations ourselves.

Best,

Rick M.

ybonesy said...

I love orcas, but I can see Rev's point. But it's part of nature, survival. How can you argue with that?

Gunnar Berg said...

Well.............he does.

Mimbres Man said...

Orcas are the badasses of the ocean.

Anonymous said...

if you don't like orcas, don't hang out with them.

mw

Kurt said...

Alan, coworker, was kayaking in the Puget Sound when he saw an orca. The orca swam to about ten feet of Alan and and came out of the water a bit and looked at him. Alan looked at the orca in the eye and knew that he was not looking at a cow's eye but at an computing predator with the human at the bottom.

Alan did not kayak in the Sound much after that.
Kurt

Anonymous said...

Pffffffft. Y'all just like Orcas because of their dramatic color way.

some guy

Anonymous said...

A Planet Earth Series' dvd describes orcas shadowing whale pods as they're birthing, killing the babies when they can, and eating just the tongues. The rest goes to the ocean-dwelling masses. Orcas, wolves, and golden eagles know how to live at the high end and provide for the needy.
Butch

Gunnar Berg said...

Trickle down! I might have known. They're not asshole jerks, they're Reagan Republicans. Oh ... never mind.