Pod of Orcas Attack Couple's Yacht Midway Through Sailing Training Course in Morocco

"We were sitting ducks. We were amazingly calm, but underneath we were thinking, 'Oh my god,' " said passenger Janet Morris

Stephen Bidwell / SWNS
Stephen Bidwell / SWNS

A British couple had a frightening encounter with a pod of orcas while out at sea earlier this month.

Janet Morris and Stephen Bidwell from Cambridge told The Sunday Times that they were on the second day of training for their week-long sailing course off the coast of Morocco when the incident took place on May 2.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw them," Morris, 58, told the outlet, noting that they had been awed by the sight at first. "It's extremely rare."

"We were sitting ducks. We were amazingly calm but underneath we were thinking, 'Oh my god.' [But] because everyone was calm, it felt okay," she added.

Stephen Bidwell / SWNS
Stephen Bidwell / SWNS

Related:Orcas Continue to Clash with Boats off the Coast of Europe, Reportedly Sinking Two Sailboats

Things took a turn for the worst, however, while the couple had been napping while preparing for a night watch.

They told the Times that they woke up to the sound of loud bangs on the hull and crew members shouting about the orcas. When they went outside, they found the creatures bumping into their 46-foot boat.

"We were petrified," Morris said. "It wasn't until afterwards that we talked about being very scared. We got our valuables and our passports and talked about getting the life raft ready."

"It really didn't help that conditions were bad before the orcas. The boat was moving around a lot," she explained.

According to the Times, the boat's crew said that the pod of orcas had been chasing sponge-like debris that drifted beneath the boat before they started bumping it, which they did for an hour.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Morris noted that the captain of the ship had been "calm and orderly," which "got everyone through the experience."

"We all remained calm because we were aware that if any of us got anxious, it would be infectious," Bidwell, 58, told the outlet. "We were able to do that because the skipper was so calm. Orcas enjoy the thrill of the chase, so ideally we'd have kept still. But that wasn't possible because of the winds."

The couple said that following the chase, the boat's steering system failed, which prompted Morris, Bidwell and the rest of the crew to return to shore. There, they realized the orcas had been chasing pieces of the yacht's rudder.

RELATED Video: WATCH: Shark Week Shares the First Drone Footage of Orca Whales Hunting a Great White Shark

The area that the couple had been sailing in, the Strait of Gibraltar, is known as "orca alley" because of the number of orca sightings there. Two boats were reportedly sunk by the animals off the coast of Portugal last month, with other vessels having to be towed back into port after orcas wrecked their rudders.

The incidents of orcas encountering yachts and other boats in the area have been increasing over the years, with several sailing magazines and websites noting that the creatures appeared to be attracted to a ship's rudder because of the water pressure it gives off, according to NPR.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.