Orca Strikes a Yacht in the North Sea

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Orca Strikes a Yacht in the North Sea

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Amid recent reports of orca whales repeatedly attacking boats, William Rutten, a former physicist and current professor at University of Twente, reported that his yacht was attacked by an orca along the Shetland Islands in Scotland. 

Rutten was sailing in Norway along the cities of Lerwick to Bergen when he was suddenly met with a wild orca tailing the stern of his boat. At first, the orca remained near the stern. However, it soon disappeared under the water and reappeared with greater speed as it rammed itself toward the vehicle. Later on, it remained circling the boat as if it were prey. Rutten explained that the orca caused “soft shocks” throughout the body of the boat. 

The Atlantic Orca Working Group reported that, in recent years, orca boat attacks have risen triple the average amount. This year, there have been more than 57 attacks. In 2022, there were more than 200 total occurrences. However, in 2020 there were only 52 incidents. Due to these attacks, boats have been facing heavy damage or sinking. 

Researchers are puzzled at the intentions behind these attacks. In the earlier years, the orcas have merely damaged the rudder then lost interest. However, in recent events, orcas have been following the boats to shore upon sinking them. 

Some researchers believe it may have stemmed from an act of revenge. One female orca named White Gladis suffered a critical injury from a boat, thus causing her to act aggressively towards other boats even being imitated by other orcas. Other researchers believe it may be a form of “play”. Even though the orcas have the ability to destroy the boat and the crew members, they show “light” behaviors by merely sinking the boats. Despite a variety of theories, the definitive reasoning behind the orcas' attacks still remains a big mystery. 

Although their motives are unknown, researchers are working hard to determine and potentially stop these strange orca behaviors.

By Joyce Kang  


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