ELI5- why are whales, particular killer whales, not aggressive towards humans?


ELI5- why are whales, particular killer whales, not aggressive towards humans?

In: Biology

For the same reason they are not aggressive to most things. Aggression is a costly thing for any creature; it immediately increases the risk of harm to itself – so its usually best to be chill unless there is a specific reason not to be. When creatures are aggressive it is because they are hunting or there is a threat they recognise as a threat (like a predator, or something that will compete for food, or compete for sex).

In order to be aggressive you have to be seen as a threat or food. Humans are not native to the sea, and most sea predators are confident enough that they don’t get twitchy about unusual things being threatening. Likewise, many predators are picky eater, not random opportunists – so we are not seen as likely food – usually.

Even those shark bites people are scared of are supposed to be more a “taste” to see if we might be food. Only that’s usually lethal for us, because we are fragile animals of the land.

Cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) are highly intelligent and social animals. They know individual humans not a threat to them unless they’re provoked in some way. They also know we’re not not part of their regular diet. They’re actually pretty picky about what they eat. Much like (most people) wouldn’t bother wasting time and energy hunting something that we have no intention of eating or attacking something that’s not a threat, toothed whales do the same.

One reason is that orcas like sea creates, for example seals, that are essentially bags of blubber and muscle. We land animals have lots of long, hard bones to keep ourselves upright. We are likely to give an orca a bad case of indigestion.