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Orcas Sinking Boats

orcas sinking boats

In recent years, a peculiar and somewhat alarming trend has been observed in the waters off of Spain and Portugal:

Orcas, also known as killer whales, have been attacking and sometimes sinking boats. This unusual behavior has left scientists, marine biologists, and the general public puzzled and concerned.

Video of Orca Hitting a Boat:

The Incidents: Orcas vs. Boats

The incidents involving orcas and boats have been both intriguing and distressing. In Spain and Portugal, there have been multiple reports of orcas not just approaching but actively attacking boats. In some cases, the damage inflicted by these marine creatures has been so severe that the boats have sunk.

One such incident occurred off the southern coast of Spain, where a group of orcas smashed into a sailboat, puncturing its hull and damaging its rudder. Similar incidents have been reported off the coast of Portugal, where at least three boats have been sunk by these majestic yet formidable creatures since 2020.

Understanding the Behavior of Orcas With Boats

The question on everyone’s mind is:

Why are orcas attacking boats?

While there’s no definitive answer yet, several theories have been proposed by experts. Some believe that the orcas may be reacting to an increase in boat traffic in their habitats, while others suggest that the orcas could be teaching each other to mess with boats as a form of play or exploration.

Consequences of Orcas’ Attacks on Boats

The impact of these orca attacks extends beyond the damaged vessels. For the sailors on these boats, the encounters can be terrifying and life-threatening. For the orcas, interactions with boats can lead to injuries and changes in their natural behavior. Furthermore, these incidents highlight the broader issue of human impact on marine life and ecosystems.

How Close Can Boats Get to Orcas?

One recommendation I found on how close boats should get to Orcas was Canada, which has specific regulations regarding the distance boats should keep from orcas:

All boats are required to stay 200 meters (approximately 219 yards) away from any orcas, whether they are endangered or not. For most other whales, the required distance is 100 meters.

It’s important to note that regulations can vary by region and country, so it’s always a good idea to check local guidelines when planning to navigate waters where whales are present. Regardless of the specific distance, the general rule is to maintain a respectful distance to avoid disturbing these magnificent creatures or provoking a reaction that could lead to an accident.

What to Do If Orcas Attack Or Are Dangerously Close

If you find yourself in close proximity to orcas, it’s crucial to remember that these are wild animals, and their behavior can be unpredictable. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your safety and the safety of the orcas:

  1. Maintain Your Distance: If you see an orca, try to maintain a distance of about 50 to 100 meters (164 to 328 feet). This is not only for your safety but also for the well-being of the orcas.
  2. Turn Off Your Engine: If an orca is close to your boat, turn off your engine or, at the very least, slow down. This can help avoid startling or injuring the orcas.
  3. Stay on Their Side: Try not to approach orcas from the back or from the front. Instead, stay on their side. This can help avoid startling them.
  4. Never Enter the Water: If you see any whales near you in the ocean, never enter the water. Orcas are much larger and stronger than humans, and entering the water can put you at risk.
  5. Contact Authorities: If an orca strikes your boat, contact the authorities immediately. They can provide further guidance and assistance.
  6. Stay Calm and Patient: If an orca is interacting with your boat, stay calm and patient. Often, the orca will lose interest and move away after a while.
  7. Avoid Aggressive Maneuvers: Avoid making aggressive maneuvers with your boat. This can startle or provoke the orcas, potentially leading to more dangerous interactions.
  8. Consider Reverse Propulsion: If orcas are dangerously close, some skippers have found success in using reverse propulsion to create a frothy distraction, potentially deterring the orcas from the boat’s rudders. However, this technique should be used with caution as it could potentially injure the animals.

Remember, these are only guidelines and are based on current knowledge and experiences. Orcas are intelligent and curious animals, and their behavior can change and adapt. Always prioritize safety and respect for these incredible marine creatures.

Sources: Business Insider, Yachting Monthly


Do Orcas Mess with Boats?

The recent incidents involving orcas and boats suggest that orcas do indeed interfere with boats. While this behavior is not typical of all orcas, the ones involved in these incidents have shown a clear pattern of approaching and interacting with boats in ways that can cause damage and pose risks to the people on board.

How Many Ships Have Been Sunk by Whales?

Since 2020, at least three ships off the coasts of Spain and Portugal have been sunk by orcas. These incidents have been well-documented and have sparked considerable interest and concern among scientists, sailors, and the general public. It’s important to note that these incidents involve orcas, a specific type of whale, and not whales in general.

Do Whales Come Up Under Boats?

While there have been reports of whales breaching near boats, it’s not a common occurrence. Whales, including orcas, generally try to avoid boats.

Have Any Whales Sunk a Ship?

Yes, as mentioned earlier, orcas, which are a species of whale, have sunk ships in the past. The incidents off the coasts of Spain and Portugal are notable examples.

Do Boats Ever Hit Whales?

Unfortunately, collisions between boats and whales do occur and often result in injury or death for the whales. These incidents are a stark reminder of the impact human activities can have on marine life. It’s crucial for those navigating waters inhabited by whales to be aware of their presence and take precautions to avoid collisions.


The mystery of orcas sinking boats continues to baffle scientists and the public alike. While we strive to understand this behavior, it’s crucial to respect these magnificent creatures and their habitats.

As we navigate the waters they call home, let’s remember that we are visitors in their world. Further research and increased awareness are needed to ensure the safety of both humans and orcas in our shared oceans.

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Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.

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