Orcas im Wasser

Gibraltar

“Appetite” for rudder blades

Once again, a BAVARIA customer fell victim to an orca attack in the Strait of Gibraltar. The target of the killer whales were the rudder blades of the brand new 40-foot catamaran, which was on a transfer trip from France to Greece.

The cat’s customer described the incident as follows: “While ferrying the vessel from La Rochelle to Athens, the boat was attacked by orcas (killer whales) outside Gibraltar. After the incident, the skipper jumped into the water to check if the boat was damaged, without noticing anything concrete at the time. On Monday, the catamaran finally arrived at a shipyard where it was lifted out of the water for an inspection. Immediately it was found that both rudders were out of alignment and damaged. The shaft of both rudders was bent and the polyester part of the rudders was also cracked and broken open. In addition, the tube connecting the two rudders was also affected by the impact and bent.”

This scenario is far from being an isolated case. Since the summer of 2020, reports of very similar incidents have been piling up off the coast of Spain and Portugal. Researchers and experts disagree on what could have triggered this behaviour, which is actually unusual for killer whales. While some see an explanation in the youthful exuberance of individual whale individuals testing their pubescent strength on sailboats, others are of the opinion that a very specific, aversive incident between whale and ship could have been the trigger for the animals now judging boats as predators and attacking them. 

Orcas belong to the dolphin family and live in relatively close family groups of up to ten animals, within which they pass on behavioural patterns and hunting strategies. They are known to hunt in coordinated groups.

Sandra Ahrabian, CEO of BAVARIA AG, comments: “The damage has of course already been repaired and settled; after all, we are known for our very fast claims settlement.  This is now the second case of this kind reported to us. We at BAVARIA AG cannot confirm the extreme frequency of such orca attacks as is sometimes suggested in the media.”