Pack of killer whales surround, jostle family's boat off Newfoundland

By The Canadian Press
July 12, 2016 - 5:31am

BURGEO, N.L. — A father-daughter fishing trip turned dangerous when the family's boat was encircled by a pack of killer whales off Newfoundland.

Norm Strickland said the orcas surrounded and charged his 5.5-metre boat near Burgeo on Saturday.

"I've been in boats all of my life. I've never had a fear," Strickland said Monday. "But I can tell you, that day I was scared ... the boat would capsize."

Strickland said he was cod fishing with his daughter, Elizabeth, and his dog when he spotted an unusual tall, black fin around 45 metres away.

The 67-year-old retired fisherman had never seen an orca in East Coast waters, and suddenly, five or six of them were nudging his boat.

At first, Strickland thought the orcas were just being friendly.

"If you look at advertising ... (for) aquariums, you're led to believe that those things are very playful," he said. "I was saying, 'My god! They're coming so close!'"

Soon, it escalated into what seemed a coordinated bombardment, he said. The orcas swam underwater and charged into the boat, surrounding it on all sides. 

"It was really harder than a bump ... because it was using his body," Strickland said. "It was jolting the boat enough that when it hit, you almost lost your balance."

He started to worry what would happen if they landed in the water.

His daughter stopped snapping photos. The family dog, Sadie, bared its teeth and barked at the predators.

"I guess she was scared too," Strickland said.

Strickland steered his boat toward the shoreline until the orcas finally lost interest.

"I was some happy to get the heck in — out of that," he said. "It was the first time ever I saw an orca whale, and I don't ever want to see any more."

After recovering from the half-hour encounter, Strickland and his daughter sailed out for another area but did not catch any cod.

— By Adina Bresge in Halifax

The Canadian Press

©2016 The Canadian Press

Alberta country singer wants to hear more about Jason Kenney policies

Join the Discussion

We are happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules: Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic, be responsible, share your knowledge, and please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. See full commenting rules.