Orcas Once Wore Salmon Hats In Underwater Fashion Trend

June 23, 2023

Did you know orcas have cultural fads just like people?

An orca once started a popular underwater fashion trend by donning fashionable salmon hats.

orcas wearing salmon hats
Created by Craiyon / AI generator

Orcas are highly intelligent and very social animals. When they're not swimming or feeding, they're playing.

"They can spend up to 50% of the day moving from place to place to find food. Part of the rest is used to carry out social and entertainment activities," Killer-Whale.org reported.

Therefore, orca behaviors are socially shared and learned within a population — and sometimes a fad emerges.

For instance, in 2022, a new fad emerged where orcas were ramming into boats. According to reports, the orcas ram small boats repeatedly, and almost always go for the rudder.

"At this time, there may be at least 15 orcas, from six different groups, which are actively participating, or [acting] as observers,” Alfredo López, a biologist from the University of Santiago and a member of the Grupo de trabajo Orca Atlántica, explained.

There have been many documented social trends amongst orcas, but we're here to discuss the greatest one: salmon hats.

Back in 1987, one orca from a group known as the Southern Residents began swimming with a dead salmon on its head. The female orca was part of the K pod in the Pacific Northwest's Puget Sound.

Within weeks, individuals within ALL THREE pods in the area were observed sporting veils of dead salmon. The behavior didn't seem to serve much of a function other than the whales apparently found it very entertaining.

Then, just as suddenly as it began, the salmon hats went out of fashion. The behavior had ceased the following summer.

Decades later, researchers still aren't sure why it caught on in the first place.

Sources: 2004 study in Biological Conservation. / Atlas Obscura

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