A British sailor recalled his terrifying close encounter with a pod of killer whales that slammed around his boat “like a rag doll”. Captain Iain Hamilton, 60, was left at the mercy of five killer whales on Friday after they broke off the rudders of his boat and started pushing it around.
The Butey of the Clyde, which was sailing some 30 km off the coast of Gibraltar at the time of the encounter, is one of the latest boats to have sustained an attack by these animals in the area.
While he didn’t minimise the scary encounter, the sailor also said he doesn’t believe the animals wanted to harm him or destroy the boat, something they could have easily done so had they wanted to.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4, the sailor said: “I was sailing 20 miles west of Gibraltar, noticed a fin then noticed a light bump and then a very big bump and looked round and there was a very large whale pushing along the back and trying to bite the rudder.
“To begin with there was one big whale and four smaller whales and they were just bumping it and bumping it and then one of them managed to take off one of the rudders – the boat has two.
“Then we lost the second rudder so we had no mechanism of steering the boat and the whales were in charge of the boat and they pushed us around like a rag doll.”
Mr Hamilton went on to speculate the bigger killer whale was leading the attack and was joined in the chase by the four younger animals in what looked “almost like synchronised swimming”.
He conceded: “If you were in a play park or something you would have thought that was magnificent. At the time I maybe had a different thought.”
Mr Hamilton said that, since he has been waiting to get his boat repaired, he has seen a 60ft catamaran entering the harbour with extensive damages.
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
The sailor expressed his concerns the frequent attacks may have a ripple effect on the local economy, as he said: “I think it is only a matter of time before the insurance companies say, ‘You’re not insured’ which will have an impact on the local industry.”
The number of boats rescued by Salvamento Maritimo, Spain’s search and rescue maritime service, in the first half of 2023 has almost doubled when compared to incidents recorded in the whole of 2022. In the Strait of Gibraltar alone, 24 vessels have been towed this year.
Data collected by the Atlantic Orca Working Group (GTOA) suggested that, over the past three years, there have been 744 encounters between killer whales and boats recorded between the coast of North Africa and Brittany.
More than 500 of these were direct interactions, with the animals responding more or less directly to the presence of the vessels in the water, while the others were mere sightings.
Fighter jets chase plane after pilot is spotted slumped over in cockpit[INSIGHT]
Killer whales attack yet another boat off coast leaving experts baffled[REPORT]
Giant marine reptiles of the Jurassic were twice the size of killer whales[REPORT]
Biomarine experts are hoping that tracking killer whales with GPS tags will help prevent further attacks.
One of those believed to be involved in the encounter with Mr Hamilton has already been tagged with a non-invasive GPS device.
Six other whales are also set to be tagged after they were identified as the culprits in other boat attacks.
The information obtained through the tracking will be shared with relevant administrations, which in turn will share it with sailors in order to try and minimise the interactions with the animals.
The tagging is being promoted by the Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Miteco), who is working with the Conservation, Information and Study on Cetaceans (CIRCE) group.
Source: Read Full Article