Experts believe orcas are ramming and sinking boats, not out of anger, but for fun. It’s like a game to them!
On May 9, 2023, the German publication Yacht reported that orcas sunk a third boat on the night of May 3.
Skipper Werner Schaufelberger said that the attack seemed to be intentional and coordinated. They said (translated): “The little ones shook the rudder at the back while the big one repeatedly backed up and rammed the ship with full force from the side.” Eventually, the crew abandoned ship, and it sunk shortly after.
Schaufelberger said it looked like the smaller orcas were copying the bigger ones. They said, “The two little orcas observed the bigger one’s technique and, with a slight run-up, they too slammed into the boat.”
Before that, orcas sunk two other boats in a similar fashion. Sailor Greg Blackburn took to Facebook to explain how his crew was forced to turn back after an orca attack.
“For an hour, they attacked our rudder while slamming the side of the yacht,” he wrote, “throwing a 20-tonne 46-foot yacht around like a play toy.”
He said that the boat “suffered heavy rudder and damage and snapped 2 helm chains” from the attack. Thankfully, they were able to steer and get back to safety despite the damage.
So my luck sailing the straits of Gibraltar out into the Atlantic finally run out yesterday. Around 14:25 we where…
“As unfortunate as this event was, to see these animals in their natural environment just effortlessly moving through the sea state and the precision with they attacked was, for lack of a better phrase, awe-inspiring,” he said.
According to 9 News, Blackburn said it appeared that the older orcas were teaching the younger ones how to attack. He said, “It was definitely some form of education, teaching going on.”
LiveScience reports that scientists first thought the orcas were attacking boats out of anger. “Scientists think a traumatized orca initiated the assault on boats after a “critical moment of agony” and that the behavior is spreading among the population through social learning,” the publication wrote.
But further insight reveals the orcas might be doing it as a game instead.
Insider interviewed a panel of orca experts to get to the bottom of it. According to the report, the experts agreed that these incidents likely aren’t driven by malice or anger. Instead, they’re likely coming from a place of fun.
They said orcas find “a lot of pleasure” in encounters like these with boaters. They also noted that there’s no evidence to support the idea that the orcas are attacking out of malice or anger.
Orcas are highly intelligent and social animals. These incidents with boaters just go to show how smart and playful they can be!
You can help protect orcas by signing this petition: Free Captive Orcas from SeaWorld’s Exploitation.