- The Orca was a 29-foot Nova Scotia-style fishing boat called "Warlock."
- There was a replica called Orca II, so the production team could preserve the real boat.
- It's unclear what happened to the original boat, but it no longer exists.
- Pieces of the Orca and the replica can be found in private collections.
- Memories from Martha’s Vineyard is a great read for Jaws fans.
Delve into the history of the Orca, the boat from the movie Jaws, as we unravel its unique design, features, and influence on maritime film culture.
The Orca, captained by Quint in Jaws (played by Robert Shaw), was a 1940s Nova Scotia-style wooden vessel known as a lobster boat. The boat used in Jaws was 29 feet long and named "Warlock," bought in the town of Marblehead in Massachusetts. There was a replica, the Orca II, made of fiberglass.
As a wonderful mix of movie buffs and boat enthusiasts, we're the perfect guides to uncover the story of the Orca, the legendary boat from "Jaws." There are quite a few bits of trivia lurking just below the surface.
Hollywood's Favorite Lobster Boat: The Orca from Spielberg's Jaws
"Jaws" is the iconic 1975 thriller directed by Steven Spielberg.
It not only terrified audiences with its menacing great white shark but also introduced the world to the Orca - the shark-hunting boat that played a crucial role in the film's narrative.
This vessel has a special place in pop culture history.
The Orca's Make and Model
The Orca was actually a 29-foot Nova Scotia lobster boat named "Warlock" before she was purchased for the film.
The Orca's Design
The Orca's design made it perfect for navigating the waters off the coast of the New England island where the movie takes place.
Its sturdy hull and the powerful engine allowed it to withstand the rough seas, while its expansive deck provided ample space for shark-hunting equipment and the cast to move around during the film's tense action sequences.
How Many Boats Were Used in Filming?
While exploring the thrilling world of Jaws, it's fascinating to discover that not just one but two Orca boats graced the screen.
The original Orca played its part in captivating close-ups and dialogue-driven scenes, leaving a lasting impression on audiences.
Meanwhile, its unsung twin, the Orca II, stole the spotlight during adrenaline-pumping action sequences, culminating in the film's unforgettable, shark-infested finale.
The Orca II was a fiberglass replica built to handle more rigorous action scenes and was the boat that was destroyed during filming.
This strategic use of two vessels allowed the filmmakers to seamlessly weave together the movie's iconic moments, forever etching the Orca's legacy in cinematic history.
Why Did They Make An Orca II?
The filmmakers created Orca II to address the challenges and demands of shooting intense action scenes in Jaws.
As one of two Orcas, the Orca II was specifically built to endure the rigors of the shark attack sequences and the climactic sinking scene without putting the primary vessel at risk.
Especially the final scene. The production team didn't want to sink a real boat.
Having a fiberglass replica boat allowed the filmmakers to capture intense, dramatic moments without worrying about damaging a beautiful, vintage boat, which was essential for close-ups, dialogue, and regular fishing scenes.
By using the fiberglass Orca replica, Orca II, for high-impact sequences, they ensured the seamless continuity of the film while preserving the real Orca.
This strategic decision not only protected the main vessel but also facilitated the successful execution of the movie's most thrilling and memorable moments.
Did They Use a Mechanical Shark?
Yes. The mechanical shark from the film is affectionately nicknamed Bruce.
Other practical effects in Jaws included the use of smaller-scale models and live footage of actual sharks.
In certain scenes, a small-scale shark model was filmed up close to create the illusion of a full-size creature.
The practical effects in Jaws were further enhanced by clever filmmaking techniques.
Spielberg's choice to limit the shark's screen time, often relying on suggestion and the iconic score by John Williams, allowed the audience's imagination to amplify the terror.
What Happened to the Original Orca?
The fate of the original Orca from Jaws is a tale tinged with both fame and tragedy.
After the film production wrapped, the iconic boat was sold to a fisherman in Los Angeles.
However, as the movie skyrocketed to success, Universal Studios decided to buy it back for ten times the original selling price.
The Orca was then proudly displayed on the backlot studio tour near the Amity Island section of the ride.
Sadly, the boat's final moments were far from glamorous. One version of the story recounts that studio executives, in an ill-fated decision, opted to dispose of the Orca and ultimately chopped it up with chainsaws.
Another rendition suggests that the boat, already in a state of disrepair, met its demise when it cracked in half while being hoisted by a crane for much-needed repairs.
Regardless of the exact circumstances, the loss of the Orca remains a poignant chapter in the annals of film history and fictional shark research.
Does the Orca from Jaws Still Exist?
The original Orca from Jaws no longer exists in its complete form.
As we explained, after being sold and bought back by Universal Studios, it was eventually destroyed—either by being chopped up with chainsaws or accidentally cracking in half during an attempt to repair it.
Pieces of the boat were salvaged, and some of them have found their way into private collections or museums as memorabilia from the classic film.
As for the Orca II, it found its way to a beach in Martha's Vineyard, where it sat for years. A fitting spot considering the Orca’s origins and Quint being inspired by Lynn Murphy, a Martha’s Vineyard Area local marine mechanic.
It was eventually cut up into smaller pieces due to security issues and fans taking parts of the boat as souvenirs.
Some of these pieces were included in a limited edition of the book Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard.
For more information, we highly recommend checking the book out!
Why Did the Jaws Ride Really Close?
The Jaws ride at Universal Studios Florida closed on January 2, 2012, to make way for new attractions.
The area where the Jaws ride was located was redeveloped into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley.
The decision to close the Jaws ride was driven by the desire to introduce new, innovative attractions that would appeal to a broader and more contemporary audience, capitalizing on the immense popularity of the Harry Potter series.
Did the Jaws Ride Use Real Sharks?
The Jaws ride at Universal Studios Florida did not use real sharks but relied on animatronic sharks designed to mimic the great white shark from the movie.
These mechanical sharks were engineered to provide a realistic experience for parkgoers, complete with a dramatic finale where the skipper fired a grenade into the shark's mouth, causing it to "explode" beneath the surface, with chunks of fake shark flesh and water dyed blood-red amplifying the effect.
Ensuring the smooth movement of the giant robotic shark through water proved to be more difficult than anticipated, often resulting in poorly synchronized movements with the boat or a failure in the climactic explosion.
The ride's complex machinery, located 20 feet underwater, made maintenance a daunting task.
Consequently, guests frequently experienced technical difficulties, while the ride itself was notorious for being frequently out of operation.
This may have contributed to its retirement in favor of Diagon Alley.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson