‘Orca uprising’: Why are orca whales targeting boats?

Pods of orcas are being documented ramming into and even destroying boats, as scientists try to understand why.

An orca whale passes by a boat in the Strait of Gibraltar
An orca whale passes by a boat in the Strait of Gibraltar between Europe and Africa [Jeroen Hoekendijk/File Photo]

Off the coasts of Portugal and Spain and in the nearby Strait of Gibraltar, pods of orca whales have been ramming commuter boats and ripping off boat rudders. At least three sailboats have sunk in the past year. Now, it’s happened again off Scotland’s Shetland Islands, the first ever in that area. There’ve been more than 200 reports of these types of encounters since 2020. And if you’ve been scrolling through your social media feed, you might be on “team orca” or “team yacht”. The possible explanations for why, though, aren’t as clear cut as orcas wanting to take down billionaire boats.

In this episode: 

  • Philip Hoare (@philipwhale), author and filmmaker
  • Jeroen Hoekendijk (@jeroen_hoekendihk), marine biologist, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
  • Monika Wieland Shields, co-founder and director, Orca Behavior Institute

Episode credits:

This episode was produced by Chloe K. Li with Sonia Bhagat and our host Malika Bilal. Khaled Soltan fact-checked this episode.

Our sound designer is Alex Roldan. Our lead of audience development and engagement is Aya Elmileik.  Adam Abou-Gad is our engagement producer.

Alexandra Locke is The Take’s executive producer, and Ney Alvarez is Al Jazeera’s head of audio.

Connect with us:

@AJEPodcasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Source: Al Jazeera