The orca are learning

It’s so hard to be angry with them when they’re doing such a good job of picking their targets.

Killer whales have sunk yet another boat in southwestern Europe, marking the fourth such incident in the region in the last two years.

The latest attack saw a pod of orcas target a yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar for about 45 minutes, Polish cruise company Morskie Mile said in a Facebook post on 31 October.

The boat’s operator said the relentless attack focused on the yacht’s steering fin and caused extensive damage and leakage.

“Despite attempts to bring the yacht to the port by the captain, crew and rescuers from the SAR (Search and Rescue), port tugs and the Moroccan Navy, the unit sunk near the entrance to the port of Tanger Med,” the company said, while adding that the crew was “safe, unharmed, and sound”.

That’s how you do it. Hit privileged people in the pocketbook without actually killing or hurting them physically, and we’ll cheer you on. If only humans were smart enough to realize that!


  1. wzrd1 says

    The question remains though, why are these whales attacking yachts? Historically, Orcas are known to hold a grudge over an injury or death of a podmate, so there is precedent for such things, but usually such attacks were precisely targeted to an offending individual (yes, an Orca can identify individual humans, which really is quite impressive in and of itself).

    Even more impressive is doing a Bismark to the yacht. Leaving the vessel to travel in only the best circles.

  2. Snarki, child of Loki says

    I heard some comments from an orca researcher, who thought that the “yacht attacks” are because the the orcas are “having fun”.

    Sounds like fun to me too! Who’s up for a game of “sink a billionaire”?

  3. weylguy says

    Wondering if Orcas can pass on what they’ve learned to the cetaceans that are still being hunted for whale meat costing thousands of dollars a pound in elite restaurants.

  4. StevoR says

    “Despite attempts to bring the yacht to the port by the captain, crew and rescuers from the SAR (Search and Rescue), port tugs and the Moroccan Navy, the unit sunk near the entrance to the port of Tanger Med,” the company said..

    (Emphasis added.)

    The Unit? That’s an odd name for a boat..

  5. jsrtheta says

    As sympathetic as I am to orcas, but I am disturbed by their choice of targets. I have noted these attacks with special interest, because many, indeed most of the boats attacked have been sailboats

    I spent some of my happiest times sailing.on Lake Michigan. Note I say sailing, because sailing yachts (and boats with sails are referred to as yachts no matter how small they are) cause little environmental damage in comparison to the big, honkin’ power yachts many people prefer, requiring a minimal amount of skill while going through gasoline and diesel by the ton. The sailing yachts I crewed on filled up their small gas tanks at the start of the season and never again until the end of the season. Power yachts could take hours to fill for one trip.

    The orcas are targeting the wrong guys. Sailing takes skill and practice, as well as knowledge of navigation and how to read charts and weather. Power boats require only a rudimentary knowledge of driving and a fat wallet.

  6. ajbjasus says

    Bit of wishful thinking here I’m afraid.

    Many ordinary families charter small yachts for what is a relatively inexpensive, adventurous active,low carbon holiday. Many working folk own them

    The sort of yachts billionaires own are highly unlikely to be sunk in this way.

    Now if only our cetaceous friends could take out a few those pollution spewing monuments to gluttony and non eco tourism, the cruise liners.

  7. Louis says

    Are these people really “privileged” (in an unqualified sense)? I’m not sure that assumption holds up. Or at least it needs a lot more context. I don’t think the superyachts of billionaires have been sunk (have vessels that big even been attacked?).

    It goes without saying that anyone able to pay a few hundred quid for a training spot on a yacht (the company’s website seems to indicate it’s ~2500 zloty for an “internship”, about £500) is relatively privileged compared to many. The sport of yachting is (like, say, horse riding) relatively privileged. That I’m more than happy with. I just think it’s a little more nuanced than that.

    A small majority (57%) of people in the UK (I grew up in the UK, I think this is a relevant comparator) are taking/planning an overseas holiday in 2023 at a cost of ~£950 per person for 10 days. Arguably, a spot on a charter yacht like the one sunk is not out of place relative to a budget like that. Obviously, these are very quick and dirty figures found with a quick Google. I can’t promise those are perfect numbers; they vary for different age groups, for example, but they fit within a ballpark that accords with anecdote. (For whatever that is worth!)

    I grew up near the coast, pootling about on various types of boats, lessons on how to pilot dinghies weren’t the exclusive domain of people (financially or socially) privileged beyond the mean (for either the UK at the time or the area at the time). Of course, owning your own yacht (or non-dinghy-sized boat) was a hallmark of significant (compared to the mean) wealth. Dinghy sailing and qualifications were a method of supporting an application for employment as “deckhand” and “steward”. Training on yachts (for example, getting a radio licence) was also a route to employment on larger vessels. Additionally, small-medium enterprises that charted yachts/boats (leisure and fishing) were relatively common businesses. Apart from a few big boys, most were family businesses where a boat was a multi-generational asset (often paid off over more than one generation, too).

    Why I mentioned horse riding is because of the similarities in terms of privilege. Boats, like horses, are, erm…haha…the “workhorses”…of many family businesses. Not necessarily the province of the relatively privileged in any distant sense. Cars are owned by relatively privileged people, so are houses, so are “mom and pop” stores etc. The word “privileged” covers a wide spectrum and needs a reference point or two. Every single one of us reading this blog is enormously privileged, beyond their wildest dreams, compared to the average person in Somalia. We’re probably all very aware of this, and, as far as it is possible for any of us to do, we work to minimise that disparity in some manner (or work to minimise other disparities).

    My point is that I think the meme of our revolutionary socialist Orca chums striking a blow against the privileged bourgeoisie is hilarious, I love it. I just don’t think it’s well thought through or necessarily useful. It fits into the class of joke that includes “why don’t they make the plane out of the same material that the black box is made of?”, it’s funny, it just misses the point. A bit of ballparking some numbers and skimming news stories reveals small to medium businesses, retired physicists, training/solo vessels and traumatised or playful Orca in the mix. We need better anti-billionaire efforts on behalf of our cetacean chums.

    This behaviour by Orca in the region is fucking interesting, though.


  8. birgerjohansson says

    A decade ago some author (name like Säthing or something like that) wrote a bad novel based on a good idea:
    that the oceanic biosphere had developed a kind of swarm intelligence since long ago (the Permian, I think), and was waking up to the destructive effects of a new land-living species (us).
    Project get-rid-of-the-parasites started with inducing aggression in orcas and other ocean-living species, continuing with making shipping increasingly dangerous, and various biological attacks.

  9. mordred says

    @7 To take out the billionairs’ mega yachts, we’d need a different kind of orca. Armoured and with teeth that can bite through steel. And maybe lasers.
    Why is there never a mad scientist available if you need ine?

  10. Louis says

    I demand an X-Cetacean team up to take out mega-yachts. IronCetacean, The Incredible Cetacehulk, Black Lionfish…you get the drill. After mega-yachts are dealt with, we need collaboration between the sea, the air, and the land. We can’t simply sink or beach oil tankers from a pollution perspective. What we REALLY need is to recruit bacteria. Oil nomming bacteria. High-speed hull material nomming bacteria. From the depths. We also need anti-Scuba suits for benthic organisms; those things are terrifying.

    Basically, nature is slacking. At this rate we’ll have adapted to climate change and moved up hills. After selling all our coastal houses, of course…


  11. birgerjohansson says

    The book I mentioned @ 9 is “The Swarm” by Frank Schätzing.;
    great idea, mediocre execution.

  12. birgerjohansson says

    Was it The Simpsons or Family Guy that had dolphins replace humans and drive them out at sea (I know, wrong kind of cetaceans) ?

  13. Louis says

    @birgerjohansson, #13,

    I thought “Schätzing” was a specialist German sexual practice until I discovered Smirnoff.


    P.S. This Dad Joke was derived from the 1970s Smirnoff advertising campaign, which contained things like this (moderate content and 1970s-ness warning) and this (contains 1970s, not quite as bad).

  14. Erp says

    I have to agree that these aren’t standard billionaire playthings

    Alboran Champagne one of the yachts sunk was a 15 meter boat
    Grazie Mamma, the one just sunk, was a 13 meter boat (model Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 449).