Orca Update

The work of the CA’s Regulatory & Technical Services group (RATS) orca project continues, with the ongoing collation of interaction and uneventful passage reports in order to help research possible solutions to the phenomenon of orca interactions along the Iberian Peninsula.

CA orca projectOrcas continue to interact with vessels, although with fewer vessels passing that way in the winter months, fewer reports have been received.

Over recent months, the RATS has reviewed skippers’ comments on interactions and is looking at why reversing has worked for some and not others. Of the 105 interaction reports received, 30 reported going into reverse during the interaction. Of those, 16 resulted in the orca disengaging from the interaction, 11 reported that the interaction continued and 3 reports were unclear.

The skippers who reported reversing have been asked additional questions, the answers to which will be further analysed. It should be noted that in some jurisdictions, reversing in the presence of an orca is deemed illegal except in the case of an emergency and almost certainly in all cases where the intent is to harm an orca.

Please read the Safety Protocol advocated by the CA that skippers should adopt if an interaction occurs and the recommendation regarding reversing.

Members can read about the latest updates on the orca project on page 30 of March’s Cruising magazine and page 27-28 of December’s Cruising magazine.


In addition to the marine biologists at Groupo Trabajo Orca Atlantica (GTOA) who the RATS orca project group have been working with, the project group has actively reached out to maritime organisations, both to share the interaction and uneventful passage reports and to collaborate.

As a result of this approach, the Portuguese Institute of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (ICNF) invited the CA to join a meeting of Portuguese and Spanish representatives on Friday 3 March including, amongst others, ICNF, Associação Nacional de Cruzeiros (ANC), Associação Naval de Lisboa (ANL), the Portuguese Navy and GTOA. The aim of the meeting was to share knowledge and understanding, safety protocols, areas of research and possible solutions to the phenomenon. The CA was represented by RATS John Burbeck, Mike Eastman and Paul Lingard who took part via livestream from the UK.

A few days later, on Saturday 11 March, the CA will be represented by John Burbeck at the Annual General Meeting of the European Sailing Federation (EUROSAF) in Rome, Italy which representatives from around thirty national sailing authorities will attend. John will give a presentation on the orca project and seek an ongoing collaboration.

Find out more on the CA RATS orca project here.

6 March 2023