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A Whale Just Sunk This Ship in the Middle of the Pacific

Last week, four sailors were making their way across the open ocean between Ecuador and French Polynesia when they hit a whale. The collision was so forceful that the ship went down, leaving the crew stranded in the middle of the Pacific.

They didn’t see the whale coming. One of them was on watch while the other three were sitting around the boat, which was named Raindancer, eating pizza. All of the sudden they heard a loud slam and felt the ship rock violently, reports The Washington Post.

Bryde’s whale. Image by Cravetiger/Getty

“It opened up multiple holes / cracks near the stern of the boat and the water was up to the floorboards within about 30 seconds,” sailor Rick Rodriguez wrote in a recent Instagram post. “I made attempts to save the boat but I was, unfortunately, unsuccessful. Raindancer took her last breath about 15 minutes after she got hit.”

In that time, the crew members were able to grab what gear they could and pile into a lifeboat. One of them, Alana Litz, spotted the whale and noticed blood on its back before it disappeared.

The four sailors had about three weeks of food and means for obtaining water at sea. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that. A nearby ship received their call for help and they were saved within about 10 hours.

Vessel collisions are one of the leading causes of injury for many species of large marine life, including endangered right whales, manatees, and Bryde’s whales, the kind of whale that the crew suspects they hit. Such strikes have been known to kill whales—and do serious damage to the human sailors involved. In 1989, a couple’s boat collided with a massive pod of whales and sunk in the Pacific, leaving them to spend 66 days on a life raft. In 2009, a similar incident occurred, sinking at 40-foot sailboat near Baja California. Some experts estimate that there have been more than 1,000 boat-on-whale collisions in modern history.

“As for me, I had a temporary mistrust in the ocean,” Rodriguez writes. “But I’m quickly realizing I’m still the same person. I often think about the whale who likely lost its life, but is hopefully ok. Im not sure what my next move will be. But my attraction to the sea hasn’t been shaken.

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