Terrifying footage, in which a British couple were attacked by killer whales, has been released. Janet Morris and Stephen Bidwell, from Cambridge, were enjoying a sailing course off the coast of Morocco when they spotted a pod of orcas.
The deadly mammals started bumping the boat, which according to the couple, continued for an hour. The holidaymakers were also facing high winds and big swells but they managed to navigate to calmer waters and escape to safety.
Business consultant Janet, 58, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw them - it’s extremely rare. We were sitting ducks. We were amazingly calm but underneath we were thinking, ‘Oh my god’.
“Because everyone was calm it felt okay, but we were petrified, it wasn’t until afterwards that we talked about being very scared.”
When the couple realised the potential risks of the attack, they gathered their valuables and talked about ‘getting the life raft ready’. Janet said the group’s survival was aided by the ‘calm and orderly’ captain.
Janet’s partner Stephen, also 58, said: “We all remained calm because we were aware that if any of us got anxious it would be infectious. We were able to do that because the skipper was so calm.
“Orcas enjoy the thrill of the chase, so ideally we’d have kept still, but that wasn’t possible because of the winds.”
Janet and Stephen, who are qualified to charter and captain sailing boats, were on day two of a week-long course to clock up sailing miles when the orcas hit, on May 2, seven miles from Tangier.
The couple were taking a nap in preparation for their night-watch duty when they felt banging on the hull and heard crew members shout, ‘Orcas! Orcas!’ - so they rushed to deck.
At some point during the attack the crew saw the orcas - thought to number at least six - chasing pieces of debris that looked like sponge in the water. The orcas let up the chase after an hour but the steering on the boat failed so they headed back to shore.
Back in port they realised that the debris were pieces from the rudder of the sailing yacht.
The Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Europe and Africa, has been referred to previously as ‘orca alley’ due to the large number of whales. There have been previous reports of the whales attacking boats in the area - which has baffled scientists.