If you are both a movie lover and a sailor, this question has probably crossed your mind more than once. The boat used in the movie was called Orca. Orca and Orca 2 were both used; however, Orca 2 made more appearances.
In the movie Jaws, two Orcas were used. Orca 2 was a replica of Orca, and it was made to withstand harsh conditions like sinking. Jaws were a thriller movie that outdid itself in performance and reception from the audience. It made everything look so realistic, given that computer manipulation was not something we could talk about then. It left memories in every person that watched it, and they were scary to some point.
All this good production could not have been possible without the help of Orca, and both 1 and 2 had some significant roles to play.
The first Orca was purchased in Massachusetts in Marblehead and was previously a lobster boat under Warlock. It was revamped and given a new look that could suit the movie. It was then given the name Orca 1 inset. Orca 1 was the operational boat, and it appeared in most of the fishing scenes.
Orca 2 was the boat that took the trophy home. It was made to look like the original Orca, only that it had no motor attached, and they had to row it to the position where it was needed. Orca 2 was made to sink and float when needed. It was created out of fiberglass and had a system of hydraulic barrels that made sinking and floating possible. It was the one that was used in a scene where the shark attacked the boat or when it needed to sink.
Production of the movie
As the producer was busy with his work, get realized that he had to look for a second boat whose primary purpose was to sink and float as many times as needed. That is where Orca 2 comes in. The movie needed to look as authentic as possible, so it was acted on the coast of New England at Martha’s Vineyard. The young director, Steven Spielberg, had his challenges during this time. The movie was acted primarily on water, and at night as if that is not enough—the salty water messed with the hydraulics of the machines.
Filmmaking was so challenging around the ocean that Steven hired locals as extras, and some even got some speaking parts. However, one played a significant role and was the backbone of help received from Martha’s Vineyard. Lynn Murphy, a marine mechanic, came in handy from fixing electronics underwater to towing the shark, which they named Bruce.
What happened to the Orcas?
Filming was concluded in 1975, and the production team shipped Orca 1 back to Hollywood Studios. It was later sold to a fisherman in Los Angeles for $13,000. He wanted to use it for swordfishing. However, Jaws gained popularity after a year, and the boat was repurchased for ten times its initial price. They had to take advantage of the hit, and it was placed in the studio tour in the ride section. At times Spielberg used to go to the boat to reminisce. One night he came, and ‘it was gone according to Taylor.
The second Orca had a different fate. After filming was complete, some props were sold as it is sometimes done. Murphy bought Orca 2 for a dollar immediately after filming was finished and put it on his privately owned beach for more than 30 years. He was disappointed by the outcome because Jaws fans destroyed it. The fans could come and take pieces from it; everyone wants to take home the legendary boat. They took nails and planks, and soon the mast and flybridge went missing. This continued for a while because fans thought the Orca 2 was put there for their enjoyment.
Lynn and his wife Susan tried to use other means to stop the fanatics from wrecking the boat because it was theirs for one, and it was on their property. They, for instance, called the police, and the fans got arrested for trespassing and stealing. They put up ‘no trespassing signs, but that did not help much. Sometimes Murphy yelled at them to get away from the boat, but the entitled fans always had their way.
In 2005, the Murphys learned that a celebration about everything Jaws was coming to Martha’s Vineyard, and they were sure that they had to do something or else it was going to be a mess. More people were coming over, more than they had ever experienced before. So, they took a chainsaw and cut the boat into a thousand 1-foot by 1-foot pieces. During the event, they sold these pieces and even gave the fans authentication certificate. Later on, in 2011, they agreed with the authors of Memories from Martha’s Vineyard to contribute smaller portions of the boat that measured 1 inch by 1 inch.
That was the fate of both boats. None has survived; even the Murphys tried hard to protect the Orca 2.
Orca is headed in the water, again
The purpose of the Orca in Jaws was to hunt down the monstrous shark that was terrorizing tourists and locals on the coast. Quint had one goal, to hunt it, and deal with it accordingly. Did that happen? Of course, Quint was successful in his hunting, but the shark did not go down without a fight.
A group of ocean advocates has decided to turn the story around. Not to hunt sharks but to help save them. David Bigelow started an independent project to develop a television series for the making of the Jaws. For such a television series, he needed the right boat. He tried social media, which helped him get just the right one at the right price.
This did not go on as planned because COVID 19 came into the picture, and production was half for a while. Not knowing what would happen next, he thought to turn the boat into Orca 3. Bigelow wanted this venture to be for-profit, so over the summer, he organized a campaign with the hope of raising $150,000, but he only managed $10,000. He wanted to use this boat for a touristic excursion for Jaws fans, a research vessel, and some free educational tours.
This plan also did not go as planned because he only raised a small amount. Instead, he thought to make it a nonprofit that deals with Jaws-themed tours, research, and education. He knew this would be great because most Jaws fans are shark conservationists.
Atlantic White Shark Conservancy is happy to work with Bigelow and his team in conducting shark research and educational tours on the Orca 3. They needed a vessel that was dedicated to the education of White Shark. They have already worked with some schools in Martha’s Vineyard.
Frequently Asked Questions
This section will tackle some questions that you might be asking yourself but have not been answered in the article yet. We have tried to answer them to the best of our ability to help you understand.
Why is the boat in Jaws called Orca?
An orca is a sea mammal related to dolphins and is commonly referred to as the killer whale. It is known for hunting and killing white sharks. The Orca had one purpose, to help Quint hunt and kill the hungry shark that did not allow tourists to enjoy themselves in the ocean. The name orca comes from the sea mammal because they share a trait. What else would they call a boat meant for hunting and killing sharks? Orca fit just perfect.
How big was the shark?
The shark, also called Bruce on set, was 25-foot long. Its weight was 3 tons.
Was the hunt for the shark successful?
Quint went out hunting for the shark, knowing that he could have been paid good money at the end of the day. He was determined to get the shark and deal with it once and for all. As the movie is ending, we can see that with the help of Quint, Brody fired an explorer shot into the mouth of the shark, killing it and, in turn ending the trouble it was causing.
How many times did Orca 2 sink?
For the filming to be complete and to get the perfect shot, it sank more than 20 times. This was only possible because the hydraulics enabled it to sink and float on command.
A certain fulfillment comes with watching a movie that involves what you love doing. This is the same even for sailors who have watched Jaws. How the boat is made and how the second Orca survives the shark attack is fantastic. We have talked about almost everything that is known about the two Orcas.