One of the most fascinating killer whale stories we have come across about Killer Whales, comes from Australia and was the subject of a documentary by ABC called Killers of Eden.
Killers of Eden is an incredible story about the co-operation between man and Killer Whale.
The story unfolded in the south-east of Australia where killer whales would migrate to Eden from the Antarctic Ocean in search of prey of baleen whales. 3 generations of the Davidson family teamed up with the killer whales, often led to the hunting grounds. A few orcas would swim right up the mouth of the Kiah river where the Davidsons lived near the township of Eden. They would attract attention by slapping their tails on the water until the whalers headed out their boats to them.
After the hunt, when the baleen whale was dead, the Davidsons would head row home after tying an anchor and buoy to it, leaving first takings to the killer whales. The orcas only ate their favourite bits- the tongue and lips and left the rest.
The whale would then float to the surface and the Davidsons would return to collect their share. It's a pretty gruesome partnership, but a fascinating tale of humans and orcas working together to hunt a common prey.
The whalers would try to save the killer whales if they became trapped by ropes and the orcas would protect the humans from sharks if their boats were smashed up in the hunt. The Killer Whales appeared to be able to identify the humans by appearance and certainly recognised their distinctively coloured green boats. They only used rowing boats to hunt, never power boats.
And the team hunted sustainably, killing only around 8 whales a year- enough to provide for their family.
The last of the Eden Killers was “Old Tom” who is preserved in the Eden Killer Whale Museum which tells this extraordinary tale.
The story of the Eden killers was made into an award winning documentary “Killers in Eden” by the ABC natural history unit. We'd highly recommend watching it.
The orca team disappeared from the area in the 1930s, probably due to unsustainable hunting activity. Since then, however, pods of killer whales have been spotted in the Bay and have even been seen in the mouth of the Kiah river. Perhaps these orcas are descendants of the original Eden pods?