Orcas Are Very Smart, But They Don’t Construct Separate Selves

Published: Fri 22 Mar 2024 11:51 AM
Orcas, projectively called Killer Whales, are the top predators of the sea. Different “cultures” of orcas use different strategies to hunt everything from manta rays to Great White sharks.
There is no recorded instance of orcas killing a human in the wild. They probably see us as the apex predator of the land, as they are the apex predator of the sea. However, they have murdered a few people in captivity.
Watch the video I’ve linked to below of a pod of orcas hunting a seal on a large ice floe in the Arctic. The seal is in the middle of a large slab of ice, so there is no way an orca can snatch it.
Nor is there any possibility of the pod using one of their tried and true techniques of together generating a wave big enough to wash the seal off of the floe. The chunk of ice is too large.
The orcas came up with another strategy. A half dozen of them generate an underwater wave so strong that it breaks up the ice floe into smaller pieces!
But the seal remains on one of the smaller pieces, which is now tightly encircled by a dozen or more small floes. There is still no way for the orcas to nab the seal.
What did they do? What would you do if you were
an orca and needed to eat, and the seal was the only food for many miles?
Again acting in concert, the orcas push the broken ice floe with the seal on it out into clearer sea. They then use their coordinated surface wave tactic to wash the seal off the floe.
Then, to prevent injury from the sharp edges of the ice, the matriarch communicates to the pod to surround the seal with bubbles to disorient it.
Then they claim their prize.
Reflect on the level of intellect and communication necessary to produce this successful hunt. In strategy, tactics, group communication and coordination, it rivals what ancient human hunters did on land in prehistoric times.
Orcas are obviously very smart. But do they cognitively construct a self, and spend their lives revolving around ‘me, ’ as we humans do?
Clearly not. Much less equate the self with God, as Ken Wilbur does with his absurdly arrogant “absolute infallibility of I-am-ness.” No theory is ever complete, and integral theory, which purports to be a “theory of everything, ” whitewashes the glaring anomaly of man in nature.
Like humans, orcas are capable of intentionally killing outside the instinctual predator-prey relationship. They have intentionally killed a few trainers in captivity. We call that premeditated murder.
That means that however well intentioned and well trained their trainers are, orcas, like humans, can become pathologized to the point of committing murder.
Given their cognitive capabilities, it’s not surprising that containing orcas in the equivalent of big swimming pools drives them crazy, and can produce the kind of pathology that very damaged humans exhibit.
Though there have been numerous instances of orcas acting out in captivity, and producing serious injuries in their trainers, there have only been four publicized deaths. And one orca, Tilikum, has been involved in three of them.
(Why he was compelled to continue as a show orca after killing not one but two trainers is a testimony to collective human stupidity.)
Another link below describes in some detail what happened in these four cases. It makes for disturbing, even chilling reading, because any self-aware reader will readily perceive the intentionality behind these attacks.
This raises a basic question. Is our rapacious, planet-killing species an anomaly in nature? Or is man, in all his destructiveness, simply the highest expression of nature’s tooth and claw essence, as many people believe?
Orcas provide a strong clue. Though bowhead whale populations are falling in part from orca predation (because their Arctic sanctuaries are melting due to global warming), the orca mind does not remove orcas from the web of life.
In short, only man, using our consciously separating mind, is illusorily separate from nature and tries to conquer nature, thereby disrupting the balance of nature, not to mention fragmenting the earth to the point of causing the Sixth Extinction.
How can orcas have very sophisticated hunting strategies without separating themselves from nature? Because they don’t construct a separate self, which they then venerate as “I-am-ness.”
Long before industrialization, man over-hunted prehistoric megafauna into extinction – mammoths, cave bears, elephant birds, and diprotodons -- in different lands, from North America to Australia.
What is the remedy to man’s fragmentation of the earth, and in direct proportion, humanity?
Obviously not more knowledge. No matter how scientifically advanced we humans become, beneficial, fitting and harmonious use of knowledge is still a function of wisdom.
We have to put “higher thought” in its place. Yet as individuals and a species we’re still heading in the wrong direction, lately idolizing artificial thought as Artificial Intelligence.
Knowledge is always of the past, since even new knowledge is additive and accumulative. Self and experience are increasingly old, making us slaves to alienation and time.
To end the ancient human habit of separation, one has to ignite the movement of negation within. Unguided attention (not concentration, which reinforces the self and will) opens the door to the ever-present wholeness and newness of life.
We cannot return to the wild, anymore than domesticated orcas can be returned to the oceans. The way ahead is through awakening insight within us. Then we’ll act in concert together and in harmony with the earth.
Martin LeFevre
Incredible orca hunt:
Humans killed by orcas:

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