Increased Media Attention on the Orca Attacks: Reliance Captain Centre of it All

There has been a surge in media coverage regarding orca attacks in recent days. In the Gibraltar Strait and the Mediterranean, reports of orcas interacting with yachts and boats have been steadily increasing over the last few years. 

Reliance captains have regularly seen orcas while delivering yachts over the last few years. However the story of one particular Reliance captain, Dan Kriz, has been picked up by multiple media organisations around the world. 

From Newsweek to NPR and Good Morning America, Dan has been in demand giving interviews about a couple of incidents with orcas slamming into the sides of boats and fixating on the rudder. 

While this has been an increasingly regular occurrence in Southern Europe, the story has recently been picked up by North American outlets due to similar incidents being recorded off the coast of New England. 

Speaking to Courtney Leopold, from FOX News’ America Reports, about the uptick in interest, she suggested it’s captured the imagination of the American public precisely because it doesn’t fit the popular image of orcas as ‘lovely’ and ‘friendly’ creatures. She informed Reliance that people are used to stories about shark attacks that have also been on the rise off the North American coast, but the orca story is different. 

orca attack
Stills from video footage show the orcas ripping the rudder from the yacht. Catamaran Guru Instagram

CNN journalist Jacapo Prisci got in touch with Reliance to secure an interview with Dan, but stipulated that the sudden surge in media attention concerning orca activity has providentially coincided with the development of scientific research. He said that Dan’s story is ‘unique’ because he first encountered this strange orca behaviour in 2020 before encountering them again in 2023. He has seen how they have evolved and become more coordinated. 

Prisci alluded to the latest scientific research which hypothesises that the orcas are using the yachts to train their young. Orcas have sunk three yachts in the Mediterranean this past year, as Dan Kriz pointed out in interviews, they could very easily have done the same to his boat, but they didn’t. Their focus on the rudder not only suggests complex strategising, but could be a form of play. 

Reliance had previously been contacted by the journalist Susan Smillie in 2020 about the orca attacks. Then the working theory had been that the orcas had been traumatised or confused by the sudden ceasing of commercial activity in the Med during the initial waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, before it suddenly started all over again. 

Bringing together Dan’s firsthand experience, encountering the orcas multiple times, with the latest scientific research, we can see a development of the orca activity with yachts. It’s possibly evolved from simple, aggravated attacks towards more sophisticated training techniques. 

Dan will be giving an interview about the orca encounter today at 2.45pm EST on Fox News. 

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