Successful, innovative entrepreneur Peter J. Burns III believes so, and he’s on a mission to help both humans and these amazing creatures. Burns has created over 150 startups, but this multi-millionaire is much more than a business person: he’s a humanitarian at heart. Read more to find out about The Orca Project.
The Catalyst Behind the Mission
Burns, who live on the California coast became worried about the safety of his community and individuals worldwide as he increasingly noticed media coverage of unprovoked shark attacks on humans. There’s a reason why unprovoked attacks keep appearing in the news: based on the International Shark Attack Files, which is published by the Florida Museum of Natural History, these attacks have increasingly occurred over the past few decades. The chart below provides more details:
Image source: Florida Museum of Natural History, 2018 https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/shark-attacks/trends/frequency-rates/world/
Clearly, human lives are at stake, but why does Burns believe that orcas can provide a beneficial solution?
“Apex Predators” Meet Their Match
An apex predator is a species at the top of its food chain. People often think of sharks, especially great whites, as apex predators with no natural enemies. However, research shows that this assessment is not quite correct.
According to a recent publication by Smithsonian, scientific studies have proven that a pod of orcas can drive great whites away from an area for months – even if the pod is only the area for a couple of hours. Based on the report by the Smithsonian, and other reputable publications such as National Geographic, great whites flee from orcas for good reason: orcas prey on these sharks.
Creating a “Win” for Everyone
Peter J. Burns III is not on a mission to eradicate great whites or other sharks by introducing pods of orcas into their territories. Instead, he is actively pursuing a new, green solution which will benefit humans and orcas without causing shark casualties. The Orca Project is based on the idea that great whites could be deterred from areas where humans frequently swim through the use of technology.
The Atlantic recently published an article which expressed that “orcas don’t actually have to kill any great whites to drive them away. Their mere presence—and most likely their scent—is enough.” (Yong, 2019) Burns believes that introducing the scent and sounds of orcas into waters frequented by beachgoers can help keep humans safe by driving away sharks and preventing attacks. Here are a few potential benefits to this plan:
Human swimmers are less likely to become prey – accidentally or otherwise – if sharks eschew coastal areas in favor of locations which are not frequented by people.
The project will spark further research and interest in these animals, whose populations are rapidly declining, according to the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington.
The Orca Project is a shark-friendly alternative to killing these animals. Furthermore, fewer shark attacks on people mean less “bad press” for the sharks, who are often vilified.
Become Involved in the Orca Project
If you are interested in contributing to The Orca Project or learning more about the mission, visit Burns’s site (www.peterjburnsiii.com), which gives details about this endeavor as well as other ongoing projects.
Center for Conservation Biology. (2019) Causes of Decline Among Southern Resident Killer Whales. University of Washington. Retrieved October 25, 2019, from https://conservationbiology.uw.edu/research-programs/killer-whales/.
Daley, J. (2019, April 22). Great White Sharks Are Completely Terrified of Orcas. Smithsonian. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/great-white-sharks-are-completely-terrified-orcas-180972009/
Florida Museum of Natural History. (2018) World Attack Frequency Rates. Retrieved October 25, 2019, from https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/shark-attacks/trends/frequency-rates/world/.
Rigney, E. (2019, July 16). Orcas Eat Great White Sharks—New Insights Into Rare Behavior Revealed. National Geographic. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/07/killer-whales-orcas-eat-great-white-sharks
Yong, E. (2019, April 19). The Predator That Makes Great White Sharks Flee in Fear. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/04/great-white-sharks-flee-killer-whales/587563/
Note: Previously published on Medium (2019)