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SVN solovela Global n3

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72 SVN Solovelanet Global afraid they would come and attack us. He started hitting the hull with a bottle in an attempt to drive them away, but it had the opposite effect. SVN - How many orcas were there and what was their behaviour? G.d.M.- It was not a single individual, it was five orcas, one of which was small. At that moment a sort of "escort" began. They followed us swimming parallel to the boat, surfed on the waves and every now and then disappeared, but kept following and accompanying us. At one time the helmsman told me he was feeling the boat very heavy and hard to manoeuvre, so we bore away and loosened the sails to figure out what was happening. Something was wrong. SVN - What did you do at that moment? G.d.M.- I went below deck and immediately noticed that there was already some water on board. Our skip-per, Jerome Poncette, who was in his cabin, had heard a blow, and we noticed that there was a gash in the bow with an important leak. The boat was made of wood.I went back on deck and the first thing I did instinctively was to untie the lines that held the liferaft in place, in order to get it ready. Then we went forward to put a sail and keep it stretched below the waterline to reduce the intake of water. At a certain moment, after a short time, the skipper or - dered us to put the raft in the water and abandon the boat. He stayed on board until the last moment, and only jumped overboard when the boat was about to sink. SVN - Did you immediately realize that you had col- lided with one of the orcas? G.d.M.- We figured out that they were involved in some way, but in those moments everything was chaotic. Among other things, the orcas behaved in a way that we did not expect. They stayed close to the boat until she sank, and at that moment they disap - peared with her. They were not interested in us, not least because some of us went into the water to get to the lifeboat. We hadn't actually heard a collision clearly, it was more like a slight jolt. Giuseppe Notar - bartolo, the biologist to whom we told the case, then explained many things to us, starting with the way orcas usually attack, a detail that gave us further in- sight into what had happened. When orcas want a seal to fall off the ice, they hit the ice with their noses so that the seal is thrown into the water. This would explain why we heard a jolt rather than a thunderous collision.Secondly, they probably wanted to defend their cub in the pack. Below the waterline, our boat The attacks in Galicia A s the biologist Giuseppe Notabartolo di Sciara explained to Giorgio La Mola, the yachtsman we in-terviewed for writing this ar- ticle, orcas often have no real intention of atta- cking boats. They just want to show their cubs how to do it. For this reason the attack is not violent, it is just a blow under the hull. A sturdy hull can hold up well, whereas a weak one is heavily affected and breaks. In mid-September 2020, a series of attacks of this type on bo - ats occurred off the Galician coast, in Atlantic Spain. They were all fibreglass boats that held up better than the lamellar Guia III, so much so that the rudder was the only part that broke, making the boats impossible to steer. None of the skippers re-ported sensational and violent attacks, no orcas were seen pointing the boat and hitting her with the head as bottlenose dolphins sometimes do with sharks. Even in the few available videos showing the-se attacks, you can see an orca going down underwa - ter and slowly resurfacing. At the same time the helmsman warns that there is something wrong, the rudder has disappeared. All the attacks were carried out by a POD (group) of 5-6 orcas each, as happened in the case of Guia III. The attacks were so many that in the end the Coast Guard had to issue an orca alert and require yachtsmen with boats less than 15 metres long not to cross off Galicia in order to avoid the risk of be-ing attacked.

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