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Old 13-09-2020, 01:11   #1
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Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

From Portugal down to GB it appears a (single) pod of Orcas have taken a dislike to yachts and are carrying out repeated attacks on their rudders. I was talking to a whale researcher and she does believe it's a single pod or family. They usually stay away from boats but for some reason they have decided to attack (which is also very rare for them).

"In the last two months, from southern to northern Spain, sailors have sent distress calls after worrying encounters. Two boats lost part of their rudders, at least one crew member suffered bruising from the impact of the ramming, and several boats sustained serious damage.

The latest incident occurred on Friday afternoon just off A Coruńa, on the northern coast of Spain. Halcyon Yachts was taking a 36ft boat to the UK when an orca rammed its stern at least 15 times, according to Pete Green, the company’s managing director. The boat lost steering and was towed into port to assess damage."

https://www.theguardian.com/environm...-sailing-boats
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Old 13-09-2020, 03:30   #2
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

Wow, glad we missed them on a sail to Portugal last year!
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Old 13-09-2020, 03:56   #3
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

i've always wondered how long it would be before they starting fighting back...

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Old 13-09-2020, 04:14   #4
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

There are zero recoded deaths from Orcas in the wild. There are however a number of fatalities caused by captive orcas. Who would blame them?
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Old 13-09-2020, 04:22   #5
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

Maybe the same pod moving north there were a couple of incidents in the Straits of Gibraltar 2-3 weeks ago. Thoughts were that after lockdown the tuna fishing season had caused the whales to feel their territory was being invaded, but it seems this particular pod may have got a taste for attacking boats.
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Old 13-09-2020, 05:08   #6
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

We must defend our right to arm bears......and Orcas.

That's "orcastrated."
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Old 13-09-2020, 05:33   #7
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

here's a clip from the one off A Coruna. A HL36 being delivered by Halcyon got it and ended up disabled and needed a tow. When they lifted the boat there were bite marks on the rudder and hull.

I love these animals but if there's a pod starting to do this it can only end badly. It's very very unusual behaviour.

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Old 13-09-2020, 06:49   #8
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

I've seen (on nature documentaries) that they "ram" ice flows to knock off seals which had taken refuge there. Could be they think we're just large, tasty seals?

Kinda scary. I'd hate to see the orcas harmed, but frankly if it were my boat, I'd be looking to put a very quick end to that behavior. I wonder if there's some non-lethal way to drive them off, or convince them they aren't going to get a meal by damaging boats.
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Old 13-09-2020, 06:56   #9
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

https://www.theguardian.com/environm...-killer-whales

This is an updated and more extensive version of the story. Checked on marine traffic and glad to see that Bev and Kevin made it into the Med and seem to be in one piece. Certainly makes you think about how you would deal with this type of situation - my instinct when seeing whales and dolphins is to turn off the engine if I had it running to avoid the risk of harming them with the propeller but that does not seem to be the right strategy based on these reports!
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Old 13-09-2020, 07:00   #10
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

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I've seen (on nature documentaries) that they "ram" ice flows to knock off seals which had taken refuge there. Could be they think we're just large, tasty seals?

Kinda scary. I'd hate to see the orcas harmed, but frankly if it were my boat, I'd be looking to put a very quick end to that behavior. I wonder if there's some non-lethal way to drive them off, or convince them they aren't going to get a meal by damaging boats.
That’s what I was thinking.

They’re hungry. Probably their food supply ran out in the area.

Maybe a 5 gallon bucket of Capsaicin? Or at least of ground up red chilis?
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Old 13-09-2020, 07:35   #11
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Orcas ramming sailboats in Spain

It’s mid September and multiple reports of Orcas ramming and disabling sailboats off the coasts of Spain and Portugal are being reported in the news.
This is not the first reports of marine mammals attacking sail vessels.
There are several theories. Pod marine mammals might perceive a fast sailing vessel as something attacking the pod. Single whales sleeping on the surface, hit by a sailboat, might believe they themselves are under attack and respond accordingly. Please remember marine mammals are intelligent and have a full range of sensory organs. They can see, taste, smell and most importantly hear.
Bioacoustics in marine mammals is a complex subject for marine mammals not only hear, some project sound for several purposes. To identify members of their group, detect threats, identify food and lastly “stunning sound” which can temporarily disable prey. Marine mammals live in an acoustic world.
There are three important aspects of generated noise...frequency, amplitude and time. Scientists are just beginning to dissect their complex world and that most people who work or have worked in marine mammal bioacoustics are very aware of the limits of understanding acoustics and behavior. Is there anything which will prevent attacks? No. Is there anything which might reduce the chances of attacks? Maybe, but no one knows with any degree of scientific certainty.
If you try to see it from their side, there are some obvious ideas. Sneak up on any mammal sleeping and hit them and you will get a startle reaction. Run full speed and screaming up to a group of mothers and children...what do you think will happen. So clearly amplitude (loud), frequency (screaming) and time (fast) produce a startle reaction. Kinda an oversimplification but I’m trying to get sailors to see things from a marine mammal point of view.
So it’s your decision. The more stealthy you move, the faster you move, the more you increase the chances you will be perceived as a threat.
There was an idiotic proposal to build an underwater horn that would blare constantly to alert manatees to get out of the way of powerboats. Federal laws protecting marine mammals are pretty solid and acoustics are covered.
So are sailors doomed? Just follow the rules. Keep a sharp lookout. Keep speed appropriate to all conditions including traffic both on and in the sea. Understand sleeping and grouping to protect the young are normal mammal behavior.
Some male Orcas are very aggressive but most of the sailors who see Orcas on a regular basis will respect and avoid them. Sperm whales...information on where and when has been tracked for a hundred years. Isn’t it time we all realized that the ocean is limited in size and like in a sandbox, play nice and share.
My manatee friends are not speedbumps. Till then...
Happy trails to you.
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Old 13-09-2020, 07:56   #12
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

a hungry man is an angry man...

if they are starving (which seems likely, given overfishing) and are met with humans with guns, we all lose.

anyone know how to explain to millions if not billions of humans that the solution is to boycott fish?
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Old 13-09-2020, 07:57   #13
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

Speaking to Mark’s post for a moment, I’ve had nothing but good encounters with marine mammals and I’ve had dozens and dozens. Not even counting all the manatees and porpoise in warm waters.

Whales and seals until the cows (sea cows?) come home.

All benign.

There’s something special about this group of orcas. Something different. It’s an odd behavior.

Though I will say seals can be extremely aggressive and threatening. Take your dinghy anywhere near their colony and you bett hope your motor works ha ha. Territorial.
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Old 13-09-2020, 08:14   #14
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

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a hungry man is an angry man...

...anyone know how to explain to millions if not billions of humans that the solution is to boycott fish?
I understand the desire to do good. However, given that the majority of the fish consumed by humans have never seen the ocean, let alone “the wild”, I am not sure that this is the answer. Generally any answer to an environmental or ecological problem that relies on boycotting consumption of X has a whole bunch of negative unintended consequences compared to encouraging them to demand higher standards (think fashion brands realizing that their customers demand ethical production etc.)
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Old 13-09-2020, 08:30   #15
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Re: Killer whales launch ‘orchestrated’ attacks on sailing boats

Orcas have very highly deleloped sonar and hearing. I suspect the boats in question were playing rap with over amped bass 😉
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