Orcas, often nicknamed killer whales, are undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and intimidating creatures in the ocean. Their sheer size, predatory nature, and iconic black-and-white coloration have earned them a reputation as the ultimate "metal" animals of the sea.
In recent years, there have been reports of orcas exhibiting aggressive behavior towards boats, leading sailors to explore various techniques to deter these marine behemoths. One of the perhaps most unorthodox methods was the one used by Captain Florian Rutsch and his crew, according to a report by New York Times: "as they found themselves in a tense encounter with a pod of orcas, while sailing off the Iberian Peninsula, they tried to ward off the approaching predators by playing a curated playlist of metal anthems, appropriately titled 'Metal For Orcas,' through an underwater speaker."
Captain Rutsch and his crew held their breath, hoping that the fearsome animals circling their catamaran would heed the call of the heavy chords, and go away. Unfortunately, their hopes were dashed as the orcas, undeterred by the sonic onslaught, unleashed their fury upon the vessel's rudder, rendering it inoperable and stranding the crew. Rutsch described the ordeal as "scary" and acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding effective orca deterrence techniques: "No one knows what works, what doesn’t work.”
According to Business Insider, who contacted Andrew Trites, director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia, loud underwater sounds could initially mask the signature sounds of sailboats, but orcas would eventually learn to associate these sounds with the presence of potential prey: "Ultimately the whales would catch on and use it to more easily locate vessels playing it."
While the jury is still out on whether heavy metal can keep orcas at bay, it's perhaps best to enjoy your extreme music as a soundtrack for your boat trip, rather than a reliable killer whales repellent.