A pod of orcas targeted a yacht sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar, destroying both rudders on the vessel. Recently-posted footage appears to show one of the killer whales swimming off with one of the severed rudders.
The footage, shared on Instagram by Catamaran Guru earlier this week, shows the orca swimming up to the boat and carrying off one of the rudders.
The yacht’s captain, Dan Kriz, was sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar in April when the eight orcas came in contact with his boat.
“We were about to cross shipping lines and turning south to the Canary Islands when we felt like we got bad with a wave,” Kriz told Newsweek in a recent interview.
When the orcas rammed the boat a second time, the sailor realized what was happening, he said.
“My first reaction was, ‘Please! Not again,'” Kriz told Newsweek.
The captain told the news outlet he had previously been ambushed by orcas in 2020 when sailing through the same area.
Last April, Kriz was delivering a catamaran for the Florida-based company Catamaran Guru when the orcas targeted the rudders specifically:
“It didn’t take them that long to destroy both rudders,” he said. “Looks like they knew exactly what they were doing. They didn’t touch anything else,” he told the news outlet.
“Bottom line is, we are in their territory”
Orcas have been increasingly targeting ships in the region, and experts have been trying to explain the reason behind it.
One popular theory suggests that a female orca named White Gladis may have experienced a traumatic event that triggered a change in her behavior to attack vessels. Other orcas in the area could be imitating her actions, Insider previously reported.
Indeed, Kriz believes a female orca led the attack on his boat.
“Suddenly, one big adult orca started chasing us. In a couple of minutes, she was under the boat, and that was when we realized there was still a little piece of fiberglass left, and she wanted to finish the job. After that, we didn’t see them anymore,” he told Newsweek.
While orca interactions with boats are usually harmless, they sometimes ram vessels and even sink them — which can be “quite terrifying” for those onboard. Insider’s Joshua Zitser recently reported on a similar case, where killer whales also ripped off both rudders of a yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar.
In that case, the sailor said he felt the orcas were being “almost playful” rather than particularly aggressive.
While it remains unclear what is behind this phenomenon, one expert said he believed that the orca attacks in the region would only escalate, Insider recently reported.
Even so, many have warned that, ultimately, sailors are in the orcas’ habitat, so they should be left alone and not demonized.
Kriz echoed this sentiment: “I’m strongly against harming the orcas,” he said. “Bottom line is, we are in their territory.”