Killer whales ‘systematically attack’ 15-tonne yacht for an hour as crew panic

Passengers on a 15-tonne yacht off the coast of Spain have been left terrified after a pod of killer whales “systematically attacked” their boat. The incident, which lasted almost an hour, forced the ship’s captain to shut off the engine and attempt to wait out the attack.

The yacht is now having to make an unscheduled stop in the southern Spanish port of Cadiz to check if there has been any damage to the rudder or hull. 

Sebastien Destremau, captain of the “Le Lancelot” yacht, said he saw about 20 of the black-and-white whales come towards his boat. 

He said roughly half of them then began attacking his yacht, although it was unclear why they were being aggressive. 

The incident occurred on May 22 in the Cape of Trafalgar in southern Spain. 

The captain had to move the boat backwards and forwards, having initially shut off his engine, before driving around in circles to ward off the pod. 

Originally, he came to a halt by lowering the sails in accordance with the recommended procedure in the event of an attack. 

“We saw about twenty killer whales come ashore. Eight to ten of them began to systematically attack our rudder,” he said. 

“After 20 minutes, I started the engine again. I moved forward and backward in response to the orcas to prevent them from approaching the rudder. 

“This strategy was questioned by the crew, as we were afraid of upsetting them even more. As the orcas were not giving up, I started to make very tight circles, with the helm at full speed.” 

He added: “After a few minutes, they left. But I don’t know if it was this manoeuvre that was useful.” 

The pod’s concerted blows allegedly shook the 15-tonne yacht but the crew was not harmed. 

The yacht will now make a stopover in Cadiz in the south of Spain to carry out checks before setting sail again towards Pornic, in the Loire-Atlantique region of western France. 

The sailing conditions off the Iberian Coast, particularly around Gibraltar, have become increasingly dangerous in recent years. 

Over 100 incidents involving orca whales have been documented since 2020, two of which resulted in sunken yachts.

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