There are no documented reports of wild, free-living orcas ever having intentionally attacked humans. The name ‘killer whale’ derives from ‘killers of whales’, not killers of people.

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Sadly, according to Rob Lott of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, the same cannot be said for orcas kept in captivity, in which aggression towards trainers is common.

“No one is sure what causes the animals to react in this way, but boredom, frustration and ill health, both physical and mental, have all been implicated,” says Rob. “These incidents have resulted in serious injuries to trainers and, in one case at least, proved to be fatal.”

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Main image: Orca whale breaching. -© WDC/Rob Lott

Authors

James FairWildlife journalist
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