Boys Will Be Boys

 

Why do sharks take bites out of people? Standard Answer: sharks don’t eat people, silly! They just confuse those legs for seals.

How do we know? Do we run post-chomping interviews, like in a reality TV show, and ask the shark, “Gee, what were you thinking when you decided to sample Jennifer’s legs?”

Who needs common sense? It turns out that we now know why orcas are attacking boats. Because, dear foolish reader, the orcas are merely having fun.

“Killer whales are known to play with other objects or animals in their environment to the point of damaging them (in the southern resident killer whale population of Washington, USA, which feed on salmon, individuals will ‘play’ with harbour porpoises to the point of killing them, which may be a similar escalation of an initially less harmful interaction), so this behaviour seems on that spectrum,” the scientists wrote.

Oh. That’s alright, then.  Just like any adolescent boy who throws cement blocks off an overpass to see what happens.

 “The singular agreement amongst the experts at this workshop is that the interactions between Iberian killer whales and vessels are not aggressive. The interactions have more elements consistent with fad behaviour or play/socialising than aggression. The use of such terms as ‘attack’ to describe these interactions is thus inappropriate, misleading and should cease.”

I used to have a dog, a huge german shepherd/wolf mix, who, using the same logic, thought kittens were delightful, the perfect cure for the isolation of being a lone Big Dog. He wanted to be their friend. He would even pick them up with his mouth and carry them around inside, like a proud uncle. Mysteriously, the kittens never survived the experience.

This anthropromorphization of the animal kingdom is insane.

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  1. Doug Watt Member
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    As someone who has surfed what a shark see’s is a surfboard that has an outline shaped like a seal, especially when it is beneath you. They adapt to both cold and warm waters. If there are seals in an area there is a very good chance, that there will be sharks in the area.

    When it comes to bears, mountain lions, and to a lesser extent wolves they see human beings as either prey or competitors in their territory.   

    • #1
  2. She Member
    She
    @She

    I agree that, in general, the attribution of human characteristics, thought processes, behavior, and emotion to members of the animal kingdom is absurd.

    Still, I see nothing wrong with observing animal behavior and–when parallels can be drawn with our own–in drawing them.  And I see nothing wrong with–for young children, especially–say, the stories of Beatrix Potter who was, herself, an entirely rational woman with no faux sentimentality when it came to her four-legged friends.  Many of them suffered consequences or came to sticky ends in her stories, just like her own pet rabbit (Peter) whose carcass she boiled after his natural death (no Fatal Attraction jokes, please) so that she could retrieve his bones, assemble his skeleton, and better represent the structure and movements of the lagomorphs in her watercolor paintings of them.

    Or in using animal tales as vehicles to drive home, at one remove, parabolic lessons of admirable and not-so-admirable cross-species behavior, as with Aesop.  Or Dave Grossman. Or in a few other places, even among the ancients.

    When it comes to home, I usually surround myself with creatures who aren’t all that problematic in a “nature red in tooth and claw” sense, mostly because I no longer want to deal with any more blood and guts than I absolutely have to.  No German Shepherds.  No Pit Bulls.  No Chows.   I do have very large dogs, though.

    Very.  Large.

    Off-putting to strangers, who are terrified by them on first appearance.

    That’s the idea.

    But.

    I’ve told the story often of Xena, the Great Pyrenees, who sat in front of me one day when I was enthroned in the bathroom with what looked like half of a Fu Manchu mustache dangling from one side of her face.  Every time it wiggled, she appeared about to sneeze.  Eventually, I figured out she’d rescued a mouse from the cats (it was during our severe mouse infestation period), and was holding it–quite alive-in her mouth.  I took her outside, and she immediately opened her mouth and released it back into the wild. They are bred to be guard dogs.  Gentle towards those they are guarding or who pose them no danger.  “Hell follows with [them]”, when it comes to the ones who threaten those they are guarding:

    https://wpde.com/news/offbeat/great-pyrenees-casper-that-killed-8-coyotes-to-protect-sheep-nominated-for-farm-dog-of-the-year-american-farm-bureau-purina-georgia-john-wierwille-ewe-can-do-it-naturally-landscaping-pregnant-mate-daisy-lifeline-animal-project

    That’s their nature.

    Letting our pets (dogs, cats, rabbits, etc.) express their instinct and their nature–rather than being our “fur babies,” or our “children”–at the same time as we keep them civilized enough to exist in our homes and in our lives, is a generous act and seems to be a vanishing skill.  Extending that to the vast animal wilderness, perhaps even more so.  I think that’s a great shame.  Because I don’t see how we can learn from them, if we refuse to acknowledge our differences from them.

    • #2
  3. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    When Orca hunt, they have a particular pattern of behaviour. When Orca play, they have a different pattern of behaviour.

    If the Orca behaviour towards boats off the coast of Portugal is more consistent with Orca play behaviour than with Orca hunting behaviour, then it seems to me that it’s reasonable to infer that their behaviour towards boats is more likely play behaviour than hunting behaviour.

    The headline for the linked article is silly, and the article is written in that irritating journalistic style that attributes far too much certainty to the conclusions than is warranted, but I see no reason why the scientists’ conclusions themselves are automatically invalid.

    • #3
  4. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Misthiocracy has never (View Comment):

    If the Orca behaviour towards boats off the coast of Portugal is more consistent with Orca play behaviour than with Orca hunting behaviour, then it seems to me that it’s reasonable to infer that their behaviour towards boats is more likely play behaviour than hunting behaviour.

     

    Ascribing intent is the problem.

    If a kid having fun drops a cement block off an overpass into a car, killing people, it is wrong. Even if the kid was just playing. 

    These Orcas are sinking boats. Does it matter whether it is all really just in the spirit of good fun?

    • #4
  5. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    • #5
  6. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    • #6
  7. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    In the 1985 movie The Journey of Natty Gann, the star of the story is the dog who befriends Natty.

    Natty’s dog was the Disney movie star Ned. He starred in four movies. He was an incredibly intelligent dog–he was a Vancouver wolf-Alaskan malamute hybrid. What was interesting in the movie was that the dog looked like a wolf to the farmers wherever Natty went. Natty saw this animal as a friendly protective dog. But the farmers saw this animal as a threatening wolf. The farmers knew the difference between a wolf and a dog.

    There are so many jokes out there about this animal-loving craze we are living in, and they all refer to the same fact: the people most ardently in love with all animals equally have no real knowledge of them.

    This is one of my favorite subjects, so I won’t go on and on here even though I could :) . But Disney knows it has created a bit of a problem. As my son says, watch what they do, not what they say. In 2016, when the horrible incident occurred at Disney World in which an alligator killed a toddler, afterward Disney removed 226 alligators from the lake around which the park is built, and they also removed all of the alligator statuaries and topiaries in the park. They did not want to continue confusing people as to the killer nature of alligators–it turned out that some of the park employees, having imbibed the Disney cute-alligator Kool-Aid, had actually been feeding the alligators near the resort where the boy died. Disney realized that their anthropomorphic imagery of animals had gone too far, even for them.

    People who live on the Internet don’t really know the animal kingdom at all.

    • #7
  8. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    iWe (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy has never (View Comment):

    If the Orca behaviour towards boats off the coast of Portugal is more consistent with Orca play behaviour than with Orca hunting behaviour, then it seems to me that it’s reasonable to infer that their behaviour towards boats is more likely play behaviour than hunting behaviour.

     

    Ascribing intent is the problem.

    If a kid having fun drops a cement block off an overpass into a car, killing people, it is wrong. Even if the kid was just playing.

    These Orcas are sinking boats. Does it matter whether it is all really just in the spirit of good fun?

    Again, that’s the interpretation of the article’s writer.  None of the quotes from the scientists make those claims directly, as far as I can tell. Who cares what some writer for an online publication nobody’s ever heard of thinks?

    • #8
  9. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Frankly, I don’t care if they’re playing or even accidental.  I’d probably try to find a way to electrocute anything biting my rudder.

    Or bring back harpoons.  

    I had a wasp invade my house one time.  Beautiful creature.  I killed it at once.  No regrets.  Wasps don’t belong in my house.  Whales have no business eating my boat.

    I wish I had a boat . . .

    • #9
  10. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Frankly, I don’t care if they’re playing or even accidental. I’d probably try to find a way to electrocute anything biting my rudder.

    Or bring back harpoons.

    I had a wasp invade my house one time. Beautiful creature. I killed it at once. No regrets. Wasps don’t belong in my house. Whales have no business eating my boat.

    I wish I had a boat . . .

    Lyle Lovett says:

    And if I had a boat
    I’d go out on the ocean
    And if I had a pony
    I’d ride him on my boat
    And we could all together
    Go out on the ocean
    I said me upon my pony on my boat

     

     

    • #10
  11. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Frankly, I don’t care if they’re playing or even accidental. I’d probably try to find a way to electrocute anything biting my rudder.

    Or bring back harpoons.

    I had a wasp invade my house one time. Beautiful creature. I killed it at once. No regrets. Wasps don’t belong in my house. Whales have no business eating my boat.

    I wish I had a boat . . .

    Lyle Lovett says:

    And if I had a boat
    I’d go out on the ocean
    And if I had a pony
    I’d ride him on my boat
    And we could all together
    Go out on the ocean
    I said me upon my pony on my boat

     

     

    Hilarious!  One of my favorite songs.  I dream of living on a sailboat when I retire.  Except I have red/green color deficiency and I get seasick.  It’s a nice dream otherwise.  :)

    • #11
  12. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    If orcas do start to eat people on the boats they attack and sink, shouldn’t we see it as a cry for help and ask what we can do to stop our assault on Mother Earth?

    • #12
  13. She Member
    She
    @She

    Skyler (View Comment):
     I dream of living on a sailboat when I retire.  Except I have red/green color deficiency and I get seasick.  It’s a nice dream otherwise.  :)

    Good Lord.  That must have been inconvenient, over the course of years.  Bless.

    • #13
  14. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    iWe (View Comment):
    These Orcas are sinking boats. Does it matter whether it is all really just in the spirit of good fun?

    Within the last few years, this same topic has come up. In one of the articles I have read about it, the behavior was traced to a single pod led by a matriarch and the articles detailed how she taught the others to sink the sailboats. It was deliberate and it was not ‘play’

     

    • #14
  15. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Instugator (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):
    These Orcas are sinking boats. Does it matter whether it is all really just in the spirit of good fun?

    Within the last few years, this same topic has come up. In one of the articles I have read about it, the behavior was traced to a single pod led by a matriarch and the articles detailed how she taught the others to sink the sailboats. It was deliberate and it was not ‘play’

     

    Deliberate and play are not mutually exclusive terms.

    • #15
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