Turns out the orcas don't seem to mind the heavy metal
After a worrying spate of killer whale attacks on boats, sailors are taking the fight back to the orcas in a surprising way: by blasting heavy metal music to try and scare them off.
Florian Rutsch, a German sailor who works on a catamaran off the Iberian peninsula coast, told the New York Times that he’s looked on online sailing forums for ideas on how to stop the attacks.
He read that blaring heavy metal from underwater speakers might help ward off the predators, and even found a shared Spotify playlist made just for the job: “Metal for Orcas.”
The playlist includes songs titled 'The Blood of Power', 'Infinite Terror', 'Stretched and Devoured', and 'Exceptionally Sadistic'.
A wave of killer whale attacks – dubbed "orca wars" by some on social media – has seen a pod of the marine mammals smashing into boats off the coast of Portugal and near the Strait of Gibraltar.
At one point earlier this year the attacks were happening at a rate of nearly one-per-day, according to researcher Rui Alves, who collects data on the attacks.
By October it appeared to have calmed down a little, but there were still seven recorded attacks along the coast of Portugal, Gibraltar, Morocco and southern Spain, says his website, orca.pt.
Researchers don’t know exactly why this is happening, but there are two main hypotheses. The first is that killer whales – highly intelligent and social creatures – have invented a new fad, something that younger members of orca pods have been known to do.
For Rutsch, it turns out the heavy metal treatment has had limited effectiveness. He and his crew tried it out in November, but the orcas still struck his boat’s rudders and disabled the steering.
Rutsch's boat had to be towed away by Spanish authorities who came to his rescue.