THIS is the horror moment a crew of a sinking yacht watched a pack of orcas circling their boat after being attacked in the Atlantic.

The 25ft beasts pounced on the French boat off the coast of Portugal last week and relentlessly smashed into the vessel for 45 minutes before it sank.

The crew were sailing north of Porto when the pod of violent killer whales circled the yacht and started ramming the boat and ripping apart the rudder.

Terrifying footage shows the 12-metre vessel rapidly filling up with water from the damage caused by the unrelenting orcas.

The water level can be seen rising to the waists of the four sailors, with their belongings floating around them.

Video showed one of the crew members lying in the flooded cabin frantically calling for help from the coastguard during the horrifying ordeal.

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Eliott Boyard, the skipper of the boat, told TF1: "I was at the helm and there was a very big impact against the ship because of five to seven orcas who persisted in attacking the rudder of the boat.

"They came to bite into it several times, until the hull, at the level of the rudder, gave way, and caused a leak in the boat, and then its sinking."

The sinking crew eventually managed to escape in the life raft before the boat plunged under the surface.

Thankfully, the whales had scarpered by the time they escaped in the small raft.

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“There was a little panic that came when we realised we were going to sink," Eliott said.

"At that time, we got into the water in the life raft, with the orcas around.

"But by the time we left the boat, they were no longer there."

The four-strong crew all made it to dry land safely.

Scientists have recorded a spike in orca incidents along the Atlantic coasts of Spain and Portugal. 

Sailors in the area have previously been warned to stay in port at night after shocking videos showed raging orcas trying to capsize boats.

Crews have told of their terrifying ordeals, telling how they feared for their lives as the whales rammed their boats for hours and broke off rudders.

Several videos of the incidents have been captured which show the huge black and white creatures buffeting boats and circling vessels.

More than 230 killer whale interactions have been reported off the coasts of Spain and Portugal in the last two years – ranging from the massive animals approaching boats to attacking them.

The creatures are regularly spotted in the area as they migrate to feed on tuna living around the Straits of Gibraltar.

In August, an orca pod sank a tourist boat off the Portuguese coast.

The 20-foot beasts smashed a hole in the side of the ship, which was sailing just of Sines, forcing holidaymakers to abandon the vessel.

And 45-year-old Martin Evans told how he feared his vessel would sink after an “onslaught” of roughly 30 orcas as his crew sailed near the Strait of Gibraltar.

Amid the increasing regularity of attacks, one expert suggested a harpoon strike by poachers had sparked a spate of "revenge attacks" from a rogue orca pod.

Victor J Hernandez, author and naturalist, said an illegal fishing incident in July sparked an increasing number of run-ins between the animals and passing vessels.

Hernandez believes the attacks have been carried out by a pod of between nine and 13 orcas – led by a male called Pingu.

He said: "Sailors in the area who know Pingu’s pod very well due to their markings have claimed that they were attacked with harpoons in July.

"The crew of the illegal fishing boat was probably scared when they saw them approaching so close."

According to Hernandez, orcas have a good memory – like dolphins: "Two of the youngest orcas have been hitting sailboats because they are traumatised by these kinds of vessels. 

"They hit and bite the rudders because it reminds them of the harpoon incident."

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