Fact Check

Orca Attacks Bear

Rumor: Photograph shows an orca attacking a black bear.

Published Apr 24, 2015


Claim:   Photograph shows an orca whale attacking a black bear.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, April 2015]

Photo shows an Orca trying to eat a bear. Real?


Origins:   In April 2015, a photograph showing an orca whale attacking a black bear on the shore of a fresh water river began circulating online. Most versions of this image were accompanied by the claim that the photo depicted the "spawning orcas," an annual event that purportedly sees hundreds of orcas migrating from the ocean to fresh water lakes and streams:

Last spring we received a huge number of photos from Alberni Valley residents showing the annual return of the spawning orcas — a rare annual occurrence unique to this part of the world which sees these huge creatures migrate from ocean to lake and stream. This shot of a mature orca attempting to take down a bear in one of our rivers captures the majesty (and danger) of this special time of year. Have shots of this awe-inspiring phenomenon? Send them into us so we can share them.


The photo was originally posted to the Heart of Vancouver Island Facebook page on 1 April 2015. Yes, the above-displayed image is an April Fool's Day joke, but since many viewers have encountered this image on social media sites such as Twitter and Imgur on days other than April 1, a number of them have pondered it seriously and questioned its authenticity.

Although salt water is the natural habitat for orcas, these creatures have occassionaly been found in freshwater streams. In 2011, two killer whales were found dead after wandering too far up a river in Alaska:

Two of three killer whales that wandered far up an Alaska river have died, apparently succumbing to stresses associated with being out of their saltwater habitat, federal officials said on Sunday.

Fresh water has a different chemical makeup than saltwater and prolonged exposure is dangerous for killer whales, said Julie Speegle, a NOAA spokeswoman in Juneau, Alaska.

"Saltwater is their natural habitat," she said. "They do often swim into fresh water pursuing prey, but usually they turn around and go back into the saltwater."


Last updated:   24 April 2015

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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