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Killer Whales have appeared in several movies and many documentaries.[1]

Creatures by the name of "orca" or "orc" have appeared throughout the history of Western literature. In Ludovico Ariosto's epic poem Orlando Furioso, the Orca (sometimes translated orc) was a sea-monster from whom the damsel Angelica was rescued by Orlando. This killer whale-like sea monster also appears in Michael Drayton's epic poem Polyolbion and in John Milton's Paradise Lost.

The animal was known to Herman Melville, who nonetheless already had his antagonist in the Sperm whale in his work Moby Dick, and it was not until the 1970s that it was seen as a monster.[2]

As late as the 1970s, killer whales were at times depicted negatively in fiction as ravenous predators whose behavior caused heroes to interfere to help a prey animal escape.The poorly received film Orca features the story of a male killer whale going on what appears to be a vengeful rampage after his pregnant mate is killed by humans; yet at the same time, the film shows the killer whale having the intelligence needed both for vengeance and at the film's end, seemingly for forgiveness.[2] In contrast, the 1974 Walt Disney produced motion picture The Island at the Top of the World portrayed killer whales as blood-thirsty hunters of the protagonists in one particularly brutal scene. In Jaws (1975), the name of the boat used to hunt the great white shark is the Orca, given the killer whale's status as a known predator of the shark. However, in the sequel Jaws 2, the shark's first victim is a killer whale, which was probably intended more as a Hollywood joke than an accurate portrayal of the eating habits of great white sharks.

In recent years, increased research and the animal's popularity in public venues has brought about a dramatic rehabilitation of the killer whale's image, much as the North American Wolf's image has been changed. It is now widely seen as a respected predator posing little or no threat to humans. The Free Willy films (1993, 1995, 1997) present killer whales as victims of captivity, oil spills and poaching, and were influential in changing public attitudes to captive marine mammals. Following the success of the first of these, Free Willy, the movie's captive star Keiko was returned to the coast of his native Iceland.[3]

The Japanese anime series Damekko Doubutsu features a killer whale in a humorous and ironic context: unable to swim without a floatation device.The 2006 Australian animated children's film Happy Feet portrayed two male killer whales as both powerful and intelligent playful predators and also as victims of human-caused ecological disruptions in a heavily polluted hunting ground. One of the killer whales sports massive propeller scars on its back and shies away in fear of a large fishing vessel. The killer whale's behaviour was dramatically exaggerated, yet based on genuine behaviours such as spyhopping, iceberg tipping and kicking and tossing of prey.

A popular Internet video shows a killer whale appearing to jump on a group of kayakers. The event shown is a fake used in an advertisement for a sports drink.[4][5]

ReferencesEdit


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