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Old 14-09-2020, 07:06   #1
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We were attacked by Orcas!!!

On Friday we were sailing from Coruna in northern Spain to the UK. A few hours north of Coruna and our rudder was hit numerous times. We couldn't tell what was causing it at first and then an Orca appeared alongside:



We turned the engine off and the Orca swam away. We were left with a damaged rudder and no steering. We had to be towed back in by the coastguard. The Orca then came back for some more and bashed us whislt under tow, so hard that the towing line snapped. All in all pretty scary. It's been happening to other yachts as well. What do you think is going on?

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Old 14-09-2020, 07:09   #2
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

Read posts in YBW forums about a number of attacks. Wonder if someone did something mean to anger the Orcas? Maybe they're getting tired of swimming in polluted water.
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Old 14-09-2020, 07:24   #3
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

Pete

Really confused by your experience. Could you address a few questions?
  • What color was the bottom painted?
  • Don’t know about you, but I have had dolphins warn me to change course. Could that have been the case? Were the orcas feeding or were there young present?
  • Was the tow in the same direction as your original heading, or back over your old track?

Seems odd that an intelligent wild animal would attack for sport.

Thanks

Feel free to PM back or email.

Bill
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Old 14-09-2020, 07:33   #4
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snore View Post
Pete

Really confused by your experience. Could you address a few questions?
  • What color was the bottom painted?
  • Don’t know about you, but I have had dolphins warm me to change course. Could that have been the case? Were the orcas feeding or were there young present?
  • Was the tow in the same direction as your original heading, or back over your old track?

Seems odd that an intelligence wild animal would attack for sport.

Thanks

Feel free to PM back or email.

Bill
Hi Bill,

The anti foul is blue, the topsides white. There was no sign of the Orca until after the attack. We think it was coming up at the boat from below and bashing into the rudder and biting the hull. No sign of young. The tow was in the opposite direction to the initial encounter.

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Old 14-09-2020, 09:09   #5
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

Agree with below. Damage to any species' environment will damage the species and as a result often cause aberrant behavior. This has been shown in numerous wildlife, from birds abandoning nests to animals attacking where previously such aggressive behavior had not been documented. It is akin to the "flight or fight" mechanism and appears to be triggered by severe stress or disruption of a specie's sense of safety in their habitat. A number of environmental organizations have written about this. Check out Ocean Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund though not sure they have articles on this but they are two of the most respected environmental organizations.


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Read posts in YBW forums about a number of attacks. Wonder if someone did something mean to anger the Orcas? Maybe they're getting tired of swimming in polluted water.
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Old 14-09-2020, 09:15   #6
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

Link to another current thread pondering why orcas might be doing this.
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ts-239836.html
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Old 14-09-2020, 09:27   #7
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

I have been 'reliably' informed that if you carry a length of scaffold type pipe and lower it in to the water and hit it it repeatedly with a hammer, it will drive them away. Apparently they cannot stand the sound. I understand it is used in the oil industry when they have divers in the water. I always thought they used deep divers diving from submerged diving 'bells' but there you go.
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Old 14-09-2020, 09:46   #8
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteTheDeliverySkipper View Post
Hi Bill,

The anti foul is blue, the topsides white. There was no sign of the Orca until after the attack. We think it was coming up at the boat from below and bashing into the rudder and biting the hull. No sign of young. The tow was in the opposite direction to the initial encounter.

Pete
Thanks for the answers. But now doubly confused.

At least this was a semi-coastal run. Hopefully the oracas find a new behavior before my next transatlantic..... Hell of a way to end a trip!
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Old 14-09-2020, 09:52   #9
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

There is a thought that they could associate boats with long line tuna fishermen who have caught / snagged some in their pods.

Interesting that they are carrying out attacks on boats now.
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Old 14-09-2020, 10:00   #10
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

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Originally Posted by PeteTheDeliverySkipper View Post
It's been happening to other yachts as well. What do you think is going on?
Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick (1851) based on a notorious White Whale in the Pacific named Mocha Dick (Albino Sperm Whale (1810 ~ 1859)) and coupled it with the true events of the Nanatucket Whaler "Essex" which was stove and sunk (1820) by an aggressive sperm whale.

There have historically been accounts of whale's ramming boats at sea. I'm not saying these things are related....just that they are not unprecedented.
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Old 14-09-2020, 10:03   #11
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Read posts in YBW forums about a number of attacks. Wonder if someone did something mean to anger the Orcas? Maybe they're getting tired of swimming in polluted water.
Hyperbole much? there are numerous instances of marine creatures negatively interacting with humans over time.
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Old 14-09-2020, 10:24   #12
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

Orcas are remarkable animals, extremely intelligent, social, and their whole existence is based on sound. Also, they are always in pods, usually led by the matriarch, or grandmother. We have an Orca out here in BC who carried her dead calf around in mourning for 17 days. Happily, she has just birthed a new live calf. Extremely smart of them to attack the rudder repeatedly until you were incapacitated. Seems like they really knew what they were doing.

Sound and family seem to be paramount to them, and I suspect that either they took exception to the sound of your engine, or recently their pod was injured by a boat with a similar hull. Are they any reports of other boats with that engine getting attacked? Any reports of injured orcas in the area?
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Old 14-09-2020, 10:26   #13
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

Met a panga fisherman in Baja who was terrified of orcas. He fished area whole life. Orcas is Baja sometimes not so nice - seen pics of whales being tormented for sport by orcas.

As side note, large predators sometimes go rogue (man eaters), why not orcas?
Leopard seals in antarctic are known to hunt humans. Polar bears always known to eat people if they can. Grizzly Bears eat people if they have a bad day. Orcas are very intelligent, which also means they have the ability to go crazy too.
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Old 14-09-2020, 10:31   #14
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

Without question intelligent animals occasionally attack humans. The animal world is one of either killing or being killed. There is a large record of humans being attacked by land based mammals. Why should sea based mammals not occasionally do the same?
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Old 14-09-2020, 10:37   #15
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Re: We were attacked by Orcas!!!

I read an article yesterday that several sailboats in the Med near Gibraltar were recently attacked by orcas in a similar manner, i.e. they rammed and bit the rudder.
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