No, Whales Didn't Eat Whalers

Viral story was a hoax

Aug 5, 2014
Outside Magazine
orca killer whale japan hoax viral blackfish

Good job, orcas, for still refraining from killing humans in the wild.    Tatiana Ivkovich/Thinkstock

When a story surfaced that a Japanese whaling crew had been attacked and eaten by a school of killer whales, leaving 16 dead, the social-media peanut gallery picked up on the "tragedy," hailing the assault as "awesome" and "karma."

This would have been the first deadly attack on humans by wild orcas—a significant event amid the growing SeaWorld controversy. After all, one of the central arguments in Blackfish is that keeping orcas in captivity essentially drives them mad, making them uniquely dangerous to humans. So the more than 250,000 shares on this whaling-attack story would have been warranted—had the piece not been completely fake.

People, check your sources. Anyone who clicked on the original piece would see that it appeared in World News Daily Report, a self-described "news and political satire publication"—which basically means it just makes everything up, funny or not. That's pretty much all there is to this hoax.

That means killer whales have still chalked up a total of zero fatal human attacks in the wild. And the handful of incidents that have occurred in nature usually seem to be cases of mistaken identity. Orcas could very easily kill humans, but all signs point to the fact that they probably aren't interested in eating us. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of orcas in captivity. Tim Zimmermann's The Killer in the Pool explores several of those deadly incidents—it's worth a read and is definitely real.