Whale pod joins solo rower in the Atlantic, rocking boat and blowing bubbles


A British rower making a solo journey across the Atlantic Ocean suddenly found himself with plenty of company when a huge pod of whales surrounded his boat, in a stunning scene captured on video.

Tom Waddington, a U.K.-based ski coach documenting his 2,000-nautical-mile journey to raise money for the mental health charity Mind, posted the encounter to his Instagram account.

“What a special treat,” he said, watching the whales blowing bubbles and rocking the boat as they played around him, some 100 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland on Sunday.

Waddington said he believed the pod comprised more than 1,000 long-finned pilot whales.

“I love it,” he added, “but I’m scared they’re gonna hit the rudder.”

Soon after, one of the excitable whales slammed into the side of his boat, leaving him shaken.

In recent years, there have been hundreds of dangerous boat-ramming incidents by orca whales, which have been subsequently cast as deep-sea villains plotting to take back the ocean, The Post previously reported.

In 2023, Marine biologist Mónica González explained the latest theories of why orca whales were attacking vessels off the coast of the Iberian peninsula. (Video: John Farrell/The Washington Post)

But while experts are not sure what’s driving the orca incidents, a leading theory is that the killer whales causing havoc largely off Europe’s Iberian Peninsula are just playful, bored teenagers. Another theory: The orcas want vengeance for the threat of entanglement with fishing lines.

Thankfully for Waddington, the pilot whales left his rudders intact. After trying to row away from the pod for two hours, they eventually left him alone — safe and dry(ish).

“I can’t believe it. It’s an amazing sight but also so scary,” he said.





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