The Killers of Eden was a group of orcas off the coast of Australia that helped the local whalers, the Davidson family in particular. The orcas would go out and round up baleen whales. The orcas would even invite the Davidsons out to join them—they’d swim up the bay and splash their tails when they were ready to go on the chase. The orcas worked a lot like dogs round up sheep or corner foxes. After the baleens were killed, whether by teeth or harpoon, the orcas would eat the lips and tongue and the rest would go to the whalers. The relationship continued for decades up until 1930, when Old Tom died.
Old Tom was the most celebrated orca in the pod, the one the Davidsons were probably closest with. He seemed to have a sense of humor about him, and he was also known for grabbing a rope on the boats and taking the whalers for a joyride. If you find this all as mind-blowing as I do, you might like to see the names and photos of some of Eden’s killer whales or read more about Eden’s whaling history.
This bit of trivia and more can be found in the surprisingly excellent book I recently finished, Thousand Mile Song. These animals are smart.