Speed Reads

thar she blows

Hungry killer whales are stalking Alaskan fishing boats

Move over, Jaws — there is a whole new reason to stay off the water. In Alaska, increasingly aggressive killer whales are stalking fishing boats in order to steal humans' hard-earned halibut catches, sometimes leading to high-speed pursuits across the Bering Strait, the National Post reports. "It's gotten completely out of control," one fisherman told the Anchorage Daily News.

"The orcas will wait all day for a fisher to accumulate a catch of halibut, and then deftly rob them blind," the Post describes. "They will relentlessly stalk individual fishing boats, sometimes forcing them back into port."

The problem is getting worse, too. While fishermen can bring in up to 30,000 pounds of halibut in a day, that means little when a pod of 6-ton killer whales decides to help themselves to the buffet. One fisherman recalled losing 12,000 pounds of halibut to a pod — and that was on top of the 4,000 gallons of fuel he spent trying to shake them from his tail.

Another fisherman, Jeff Kauffman, told the Anchorage Daily News that he thinks the orcas are singling out specific boats to harass. "FV Oracle Captain Robert Hanson said juvenile whales are starting to show up, and he thinks the mothers are teaching the young to go for the halibut and black cod the fishermen are trying to catch," the paper reports.

"It's kind of like a primordial struggle," said fisherman Buck Laukitis. "It comes at a real cost."