7 Reasons Killer Whales Are Evil Geniuses

Eating baby seals is only the beginning.
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Over at Wired Science, a photographer caught a stunning sequence of a killer whale in Monterey Bay flipping a dolphin out of the water and then eating it. Apparently, they do this regularly! "I have seen this with several different species of dolphins from various places around the world, so I think that killer whales probably do this regularly but not commonly," a NOAA ecologist told Nadia Drake. "With slower swimming species, like seals and sea lions, killer whales prefer to use their tails to swat them out of the water." Just go look at the ridiculous photographs.

Yikes. So that's reason number one: they kill dolphins, and who doesn't love dolphins?

Perhaps, though, we should more firmly establish that they are evil.* They kill baby things. So many baby things and in so many innovative ways! Baby seals. Baby sea lions. Even baby sperm whales!

Reason number three: they eat penguins. Penguins!

Reason number four: they kill sea turtles. If you're animal that appears on the folders that elementary school students might carry, LOOK OUT. 

And let's not forget: even other whales don't like them. In this BBC video, two humpbacks try to stop a pod of orcas from killing a gray whale baby. They don't succeed, but spend six hours trying to stop them from feeding on the body.

Reason number six: they know martial arts. Or at least they have a killer move that one orca biologist calls the "karate chop" in this Daily Mail article. This is it:

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Reason number seven: they swim in unison to 'wave wash' seals off ice floes. In other words, they don't respect home base! In any game, there's got to be somewhere off limits. And in the deadly game between Weddell seals and killer whales, you'd think the safe zone would be ice floes. But look at what these killer whales go and do: they wash the seals off the ice and into the water by swimming in unison to create a wave. That's evil! Also, genius.

* Yes, I realize that evil is a human moral category that we can't seriously apply to non-human entities. But let's pretend, shall we?
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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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