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How do teenage whales rebel? In the Strait of Gibraltar, by sinking ships

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

You've probably heard the reports. Since 2020, killer whales have been ramming yachts and other boats, which seems pretty aggressive, and they've sometimes managed to sink the boats. Are orcas fighting back against humans, who've been known for overfishing and polluting waterways, not to mention climate change?

A group of orca experts gathered in February to examine what might be behind these interactions that whales are having with boats, and they've come up with an answer. Apparently, the whales aren't being aggressive. They're just bored teenage orcas looking for something to do. Some of the report's authors told USA Today that the sea doesn't provide much stimulation for young killer whales, so pushing and breaking boat rudders can be a source of entertainment.

So what can boat owners do to avoid these rowdy teenagers? Well, they advise avoiding areas where these orcas are likely to be. They also suggest making the rudders look like jellyfish. Killer whales hate jellyfish. And if all else fails, you may need to find a way to call their moms. How do you say, come get your kids, in whale language?

(SOUNDBITE OF CHARLIE HUNTER'S "DIFFORD TILBROOK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.