Killer Wales attack boats during round-the-world race: 'We got hit by some orcas'

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By stefan armitage

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In a chilling incident straight out of a marine thriller, two sailing teams competing in The Ocean Race had a frighteningly close encounter with a pod of orcas.

As reported by NBC News, the teams - comprising of Team JAJO from Amsterdam and Mirpuri Trifork Racing from Portugal - were navigating the Atlantic waters west of Gibraltar when the incident took place around 2:50PM local time on Thursday.

The affected teams were part of The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint, a compact three-leg version of the seven-stage worldwide race.

As well as proving viewers and competitors with a thrilling chase, the global sailing competition also serves as a platform for gathering crucial climate data.

Jelmar van Beek, the skipper of Team JAJO, recalled the harrowing incident, noting that multiple orcas were involved in the encounter. Even though the orcas made physical contact with the boats - nudging, biting at the rudders - and in one instance, ramming into the boat.

Check out the terrifying footage below:

Thankfully, there were no injuries reported, nor was there any significant damage to the boats.

Short after the tense encounter, Team JAJO skipper Jelmer van Beek said: "Twenty minutes ago we got hit by some orcas. Three orcas came straight at us and started hitting the rudders. Impressive to see the orcas, beautiful animals, but also a dangerous moment for us as a team.

"We took down the sails and slowed down the boat as quickly as possible and luckily after a few attacks they went away … This was a scary moment."

This run-in with orcas comes amidst growing reports and social media theories of what appear to be coordinated attacks by these marine mammals on boats.

size-large wp-image-1263217589
Ocras have been hitting headlines after a series of incidents involving boats. Credit: Arturo de Frias Photography / Getty

Gibraltar, which is located on Spain's south coast, has become a hotspot for such alarming incidents.

Cases of orcas individually or in pods ramming into a boat's hull or rudders have reportedly tripled over the past two years, and the reason for this is still unclear.

The GTOA, a group dedicated to studying orcas in the Gibraltar area, recorded 52 such interactions in 2020 and a whopping 207 in 2022, with at least three instances resulting in the sinking of boats.

Seasoned boat captain Dan Kriz - who has twice been on the receiving end of these orca attacks - shared his unnerving experience with Newsweek, saying: "First time, we could hear them communicating under the boat. This time, they were quiet, and it didn't take them that long to destroy both rudders."

"Looks like they knew exactly what they are doing. They didn't touch anything else," Kriz added. "There is not much one can do. They are very powerful and smart."

Featured image credit: Arturo de Frias photography / Getty

Killer Wales attack boats during round-the-world race: 'We got hit by some orcas'

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

In a chilling incident straight out of a marine thriller, two sailing teams competing in The Ocean Race had a frighteningly close encounter with a pod of orcas.

As reported by NBC News, the teams - comprising of Team JAJO from Amsterdam and Mirpuri Trifork Racing from Portugal - were navigating the Atlantic waters west of Gibraltar when the incident took place around 2:50PM local time on Thursday.

The affected teams were part of The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint, a compact three-leg version of the seven-stage worldwide race.

As well as proving viewers and competitors with a thrilling chase, the global sailing competition also serves as a platform for gathering crucial climate data.

Jelmar van Beek, the skipper of Team JAJO, recalled the harrowing incident, noting that multiple orcas were involved in the encounter. Even though the orcas made physical contact with the boats - nudging, biting at the rudders - and in one instance, ramming into the boat.

Check out the terrifying footage below:

Thankfully, there were no injuries reported, nor was there any significant damage to the boats.

Short after the tense encounter, Team JAJO skipper Jelmer van Beek said: "Twenty minutes ago we got hit by some orcas. Three orcas came straight at us and started hitting the rudders. Impressive to see the orcas, beautiful animals, but also a dangerous moment for us as a team.

"We took down the sails and slowed down the boat as quickly as possible and luckily after a few attacks they went away … This was a scary moment."

This run-in with orcas comes amidst growing reports and social media theories of what appear to be coordinated attacks by these marine mammals on boats.

size-large wp-image-1263217589
Ocras have been hitting headlines after a series of incidents involving boats. Credit: Arturo de Frias Photography / Getty

Gibraltar, which is located on Spain's south coast, has become a hotspot for such alarming incidents.

Cases of orcas individually or in pods ramming into a boat's hull or rudders have reportedly tripled over the past two years, and the reason for this is still unclear.

The GTOA, a group dedicated to studying orcas in the Gibraltar area, recorded 52 such interactions in 2020 and a whopping 207 in 2022, with at least three instances resulting in the sinking of boats.

Seasoned boat captain Dan Kriz - who has twice been on the receiving end of these orca attacks - shared his unnerving experience with Newsweek, saying: "First time, we could hear them communicating under the boat. This time, they were quiet, and it didn't take them that long to destroy both rudders."

"Looks like they knew exactly what they are doing. They didn't touch anything else," Kriz added. "There is not much one can do. They are very powerful and smart."

Featured image credit: Arturo de Frias photography / Getty