Peter J. Burns III’s Orca Project Looks to Killer Whales to Keep Beaches Shark Free

Peter J. Burns III
4 min readDec 31, 2022

A stunning video released by the Monterey Bay Aquarium explains the scientific basis for a beach shark-proofing concept supported by Southern California entrepreneur Peter J. Burns III.

“White Shark vs. Orca — Who’s the Top Predator?” says the video. The killer whale is the answer. The film features Sal Jorgensen, Ph.D., senior research scientist. Jorgensen hunts white sharks in California. He claims that white sharks visit coastal areas and stay for months. Sharks are particularly fond of elephant seal rookeries, as they find seal blubbery delectable.

In the film, Jorgensen adds, “Just the presence of Orcas in these places is enough to scatter all the sharks.” The sharks will not return for up to a year, leaving the elephant seals safe to swim near the rookeries.

“As incredible as it appears when a 17-foot shark swims past the boat, and it’s massive, along comes a greater predator — the Orca,” Jorgensen says. “And it’s quite humbling.”

This information prompted Peter J. Burns III to consider the ramifications of utilizing Orcas to protect beaches for swimmers and tourists. Can the presence of an orca be simulated?

The Orca Project’s Innovation by Peter J. Burns III

Beach tourism is an essential part of the economy in many coastal communities. When shark attacks occur, or sharks are spotted in local waters, tourists and locals alike are terrified to go to the beach or engage in ocean recreational activities. As a result, if foot traffic is reduced, coastal companies and towns suffer.

So, if sharks endanger life, limb, and local tourism, killer whales may be the answer. Orcas do not harm humans in the wild, although they enjoy sharks. A strange trend has recently been noted in which multiple disfigured bodies of great white sharks have washed up on the beaches of South Africa. Scientists have discovered that the predator responsible for preying on great whites is the Orca based on the size of the bite marks on the shark.

Peter J. Burns III, who is not a lover of sharks, believes that local beach towns may relieve shark concerns by recreating the scent or sound of Orcas and “broadcasting” it in ocean waters. This might result in a natural “shark repellant” that could deter sharks for up to a year. To that aim, Peter J. Burns III has been actively contacting the Orca Conservatory to involve them in this endeavor.

Burns argues that conserving Orcas can teach us valuable lessons because the whales rarely harm humans but are in danger of extinction. Sharks will leave an area when orcas are around and won’t come back for months. Human lives can be saved with further research into the biological mechanism by which Orcas scare off sharks. Once we better understand orcas, we can use their sounds, pheromones, and other signals to keep people safe.

Facts About Shark Attacks

There’s an apparent correlation between the number of human-shark interactions and the number of humans spending time in the sea. Therefore, as our population continues to expand and interest in aquatic recreational activities increases, the amount of shark attacks is expected to continue to rise as well. That number fluctuates from year to year. In 2019, a total of 64 confirmed “unprovoked attacks” by sharks on humans was 64. That’s lower than the average of the previous five years: 82. Still, in modern history, more than 2,000 people worldwide (including 1,441 in the United States) have been the victims of shark attacks.

An unprovoked attack is an incident in which a confrontation with a human occurs within the shark’s natural habitat (typically coastal areas in the ocean around the world or on the outskirts of shore waters) with no instigation of the shark by the person. In 2019, the U.S. led the world in several unprovoked attacks, with 41. Australia was second in the world last year, with 11. Of the 41 unprovoked attacks in the U.S., 21 happened in Florida, followed by Hawaii (9). Other states where attacks occurred include California, North Carolina, Georgia, Oregon, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.

Zeroing in on Florida, Volusia County had the most shark attacks (9). Other Florida danger zones include Brevard, Duval, Broward, Martin, Nassau, Palm Beach, and St. Johns counties.

What are people doing when unprovoked shark attacks occur? More than half of shark incidents occur in people who are surfing or participating in board sports. That’s followed by swimming/wading (25%), snorkeling/free-diving (11%), body surfing/horseplay (8%), and SCUBA diving (3%).

TheOrca Project, led by Peter J. Burns III, aims to reduce the number of shark attacks. Keep an eye out. Burns is a lifelong entrepreneur who, over the last four decades, has launched more than 150 different companies and is always interested in learning about new business opportunities.

Peter J. Burns III

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Peter J. Burns III

A serial entrepreneur who specializes in the establishment of niche market replicable business enterprises; creating new concepts from the ground up.