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More encounters with Orcas...

25931

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Maybe by ripping a spade rudder tube out or a good hit on a high aspect keel? If the attacks continue, we'll no doubt find out.
Hi Graham, thanks for your reasoned reply.I have wondered why keels have not been damaged considering that orcas kill whales by biting lumps from their undersides. Quite few boats have been lifted to repair damaged rudders and presumably thoroughly inspected but I haven't seen so much as a scratch mentioned which makes me wonder about the term attack. Jim
 

TSB240

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Hi Graham, thanks for your reasoned reply.I have wondered why keels have not been damaged considering that orcas kill whales by biting lumps from their undersides. Quite few boats have been lifted to repair damaged rudders and presumably thoroughly inspected but I haven't seen so much as a scratch mentioned which makes me wonder about the term attack. Jim
Probably because most keels are made from something a lot harder and much more difficult to bite off than a rudder.
My friend thought it was an attack.
I can't think of a better single word.
I expect the PC brigade would prefer to call these NI's (negative interactions 🤭) rather than attacks.
This is the new term now being used to downplay shark attacks on humans by the snowflakes in the news departments.
Sharks are so cuddly. Bite like Orcas!😃
 

rib

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Probably because most keels are made from something a lot harder and much more difficult to bite off than a rudder.
My friend thought it was an attack.
I can't think of a better single word.
I expect the PC brigade would prefer to call these NI's (negative interactions 🤭) rather than attacks.
This is the new term now being used to downplay shark attacks on humans by the snowflakes in the news departments.
Sharks are so cuddly. Bite like Orcas!😃
It's still more their back yard than ours... Or perhaps we should kill everything that is dangerous to the wimps of mankind
 

AntarcticPilot

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Hi Graham, thanks for your reasoned reply.I have wondered why keels have not been damaged considering that orcas kill whales by biting lumps from their undersides. Quite few boats have been lifted to repair damaged rudders and presumably thoroughly inspected but I haven't seen so much as a scratch mentioned which makes me wonder about the term attack. Jim
I think that's completely down to the resilience of GRP construction. The two great survival stories ("Survive the Savage Sea" and "118 Days adrift") both started when whales holed wooden/plywood boats. The Baileys and the Robertsons both put their sinking down to impact damage from the whales, which sprang planks or stove in plywood panels. What would spring a plank or stove a panel would have little effect on a GRP or steel hull; perhaps only giving the whale a headache! I suspect that the preponderance of rudder damage is purely because the rudder is almost the only vulnerable underwater projection on a boat. The keel is (usually) a metal casting; the hull is a rounded surface made of a resilient material, offering few points where a whale's teeth could gain a grip.

Perhaps it's worth remembering that the "Essex", a whaling ship, was sunk by a Sperm whale, apparently deliberately. Sperm whales are larger than Killers, but they are fairly closely related (both are toothed whales), and both are active predators. There is also a history of Killer whales attempting to seize humans - there's one well-known account from Scott's last Antarctic expedition.

As far as the semantic difference between an attack and an interaction goes, that's all it is - semantics! From the POV of a crew, they're under attack, even if the whale thinks it's just a bit of fun! But using words like attack and fun for animals is projecting ideas and feelings on them that we simply don't know that they experience. We are a LONG way from understanding the motivations of animals, except in the simplest and most hard-wired cases. Even those of us who own dogs end up projecting a lot of our own feelings and thoughts onto an animal that probably doesn't operate in that way at all. Killer whales are probably a lot more intelligent than dogs, but they are utterly different from us in the way they perceive the world around them; far more different than a dog. And dogs' live in a different world to us, one dominated by scent and sound, but it's one that overlaps ours enough that we can relate to them. But an animal whose primary sense is echolocation, which lives in a three-dimensional environment? Not a chance that we can understand what they experience; at best we make educated guesses. But it IS their environment; we only use the topmost bit of it!
 

25931

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Probably because most keels are made from something a lot harder and much more difficult to bite off than a rudder.
My friend thought it was an attack.
I can't think of a better single word.
I expect the PC brigade would prefer to call these NI's (negative interactions 🤭) rather than attacks.
This is the new term now being used to downplay shark attacks on humans by the snowflakes in the news departments.
Sharks are so cuddly. Bite like Orcas!😃
I think that if another part had been attacked there would be tooth marks even if no real damage.
 

AntarcticPilot

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I think that if another part had been attacked there would be tooth marks even if no real damage.
I'm not certain of this, but I don't think that Killers have a wide enough gape to get their teeth into a rounded hull. Whales are softer, so the flesh"gives" round the Killer's bite, but GRP doesn't do that. A further thought is that the flukes of a whale are a pretty obvious point for a killer to attack to disable the whale; to a killer, a rudder might look like the fluke or fin of a whale.
 

25931

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Rather than biting, an orcas primary method of attack may be to ram to disable and only then bite. If ramming doesn’t work they may never progress to the biting phase of the attack.
I thought that ramming was a shark tactic, I didn't know that orcas were built that way.
 

AntarcticPilot

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I thought that ramming was a shark tactic, I didn't know that orcas were built that way.
All the toothed whales have a structure known as a melon at the top, front of their head. It's why their head looks to bulge out above the mouth; in sperm whales it was the source of spermaceti oil, widely used in lighthouses! It's primary purpose is to focus sound waves for echolocation, but a secondary purpose is to provide shock absorption when ramming. Unlike sharks, toothed whales don't have a wide gape, so taking a bit out of a flat or smoothly curved surface won't work for them. Also, their teeth aren't sharp dagger blades like shark teeth, they're conical pegs. They're for holding food, not for taking chunks out of it. As suggested, ramming is their primary form of attack for larger prey; gripping and twisting for smaller "bite sized" prey.

The account I linked to previously of the encounter on Scott's last expedition demonstrates the force of a ramming attack. If the whales could break up ice floes, they were exerting an enormous force. You can land aircraft on ice like that!
 

Buck Turgidson

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This is what was left of the rudder...

http://instagr.am/p/CRj8-dWLbJR/
I’m going with attack. And successful in this case.
what % of your deliveries through the straits get attacked?
I ask because I have to decide on Thursday if I should risk venturing out to Madeira and back or stay in the Med. My transom hung rudder is 50 this year and I’d rather like it to stay as it is.
 

Halcyon Yachts

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I’m going with attack. And successful in this case.
what % of your deliveries through the straits get attacked?
I ask because I have to decide on Thursday if I should risk venturing out to Madeira and back or stay in the Med. My transom hung rudder is 50 this year and I’d rather like it to stay as it is.
We had a Hallberg Rassy come out of the Med yesterday without incident (or even seeing any). They hugged the coast from Gib to Cadiz, trying not to go deeper than 15 metres and this tactic seemed to work well.

We deliver lots of yachts in and out of the Mediterranean and most do so without incident. This recent spate has got two of ours and we had a few last autumn as well.

The odds are in your favour, but do take care and stay as shallow as you can.

Pete
 

michael_w

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Have any metal boats been attacked? Steel might not be as tasty as composites.
 

Black Sheep

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I’m going with attack. And successful in this case.
Well I'm not.
Sure, from the perspective of the crew, it may have felt like an attack.
But we haven't learnt anything about the motivations of the orca. Is it an attack from their perspective? Don't know - the damage to the wooden rudder is consistent with either attack, or with play, or curiosity, or desire to bite something to clean their teeth.
From the orca perspective, if it was an attack, it doesn't seem successful (what does success look like, apart from a full stomach?)
 

25931

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Well I'm not.
Sure, from the perspective of the crew, it may have felt like an attack.
But we haven't learnt anything about the motivations of the orca. Is it an attack from their perspective? Don't know - the damage to the wooden rudder is consistent with either attack, or with play, or curiosity, or desire to bite something to clean their teeth.
From the orca perspective, if it was an attack, it doesn't seem successful (what does success look like, apart from a full stomach?)
Driving off a competitor ?
 

Buck Turgidson

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We had a Hallberg Rassy come out of the Med yesterday without incident (or even seeing any). They hugged the coast from Gib to Cadiz, trying not to go deeper than 15 metres and this tactic seemed to work well.

We deliver lots of yachts in and out of the Mediterranean and most do so without incident. This recent spate has got two of ours and we had a few last autumn as well.

The odds are in your favour, but do take care and stay as shallow as you can.

Pete
Thank's Pete.
Not sure how one can stay shallow and head for Madeira so might look at other options.
 
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