The name isn’t quite a misnomer, however. The only documented cases of killer whales killing people are those where the whales are being kept in captivity. It doesn’t take a genius to know killer whales are capable of killing things much bigger than people.
Killers whales can feed on leopard seals, great white sharks, and even swimming moose. Still, they’re not considered a threat to humans. Killers whales have attacked humans in the wild before, but never fatally.
In the 1910s, a killer whale tried to flip over an ice floe that a photographer and sled dog team were standing on. In 1972, a Californian surfer was bitten by a killer while, and this incident is considered the only well documented case of a wild orca biting a human. Lastly, during the filming of the BBC documentary “Frozen Planet,” a group of killer whales were trying capsize a small boat with the film crew on it.
Generally speaking, these are the only known cases where people were outright attacked by killer whales. In captivity, they have been much deadlier. 2010 was when the most recent death occurred, by the killer whale Tilikum, which had previously killed two others. Unfortunately, Tilikum isn’t the only “killer” killer whale.
Some think the reason for the higher rate of attacks and the reason for so many deaths has to do with how the killer whales behave in captivity. Though he has been involved in the deaths of three people, Tilikum still performs at SeaWorld Orlando to this day.