A yacht sank after a 45-minute attack by a pod of orcas while sailing the Strait of Gibraltar

A yacht sank after it was attacked by a pod of orcas for 45 minutes, a sailing company has said, marking the latest assault on a boat by the sea mammals this year.

Polish tour operator Morskie Mile — which means “sea miles” — said in a Facebook post that its yacht Grazie Mamma II was attacked while sailing the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco on Oct. 31.

The whales attacked the boat’s rudder, the company said, causing major damage and a leak. Despite an attempt by the captain to take the boat to the nearest port, and a rescue attempt that involved the Moroccan Navy, the yacht sank near the entrance to the port of Tanger Med, about an hour’s drive east of the city of Tangiers.

The boat’s crew were unharmed, the company said in a statement that NBC News translated from Polish. The same statement was posted to the company’s website by company owner Lech Lewandowski.

“For us, this yacht was everything that was great about sea sailing,” he said.

“Long-term friendships were formed onboard. We sailed this yacht through the most beautiful places in Europe and the Atlantic archipelagos, trained numerous yacht helmsmen, discovered the beautiful and unknown, tasted Mediterranean specialties and sailed, sailed, sailed,” Lewandowski continued.

The company said it was planning to honor forthcoming cruise bookings by using “friends’ yachts.” Future trips will take in the Baltic Sea, Norway, Italy and the Canary Islands, according to the company’s website. A single leg of a voyage can cost 1,800 Polish zloty ($432).

In May, it emerged that orcas were responsible for attacking and sinking three boats in southern Europe. Encounters between orcas and humans have been increasing since 2020, researchers say, but no human deaths have been reported.

The increased orca-boat activity has led to a slew of internet memes this year, with some claiming they were joining the “orca wars” on the side of the orcas.

In September, a Russian boat on a round-the-world trip was sunk after a prolonged attack by tiny cookiecutter sharks.

Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith is a London-based editor and reporter for NBC News Digital.

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