Orcas damage ships in Spanish waters; baffled by his behavior

A group of orcas seriously damaged a sailboat off the coast of southern Spain, the local maritime rescue service said on Thursday, adding to the dozens of orca attacks on boats registered so far this year on the coasts. Spanish and Portuguese.

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During the early hours of Thursday morning, a group of orcas broke its rudder and punctured its hull after colliding with the Mustique on its way to Gibraltar, prompting its crew of four to contact Spanish authorities for help, it said. a spokesman for the sea rescue service.

The service deployed a rapid response vessel and a helicopter with a bilge pump to assist the 20-meter vessel, which was sailing under the British flag, he added. The Mustique was towed to the port of Barbate, in the province of Cádiz, for repairs.

According to the GTOA research group, which tracks the populations of the Iberian killer whale subspecies, the incident follows at least 20 interactions this month alone in the Strait of Gibraltar between small vessels and highly social apex predators. In 2022, there were 207 reported interactions, the GTOA data showed.

At the beginning of May, the Alborán Champagne sailboat suffered a similar impact by three orcas at half a nautical mile (926 meters) from Barbate. The ship could not be towed as she was completely awash and she was left adrift to sink. The guidelines issued by the Spanish Ministry of Transport stipulate that whenever boats observe any alteration in the behavior of orcas, such as sudden changes in direction or speed, they must leave the area as soon as possible and avoid further disturbing the animals during maneuvers. .

Every interaction between a ship and an orca must be reported to the authorities, the ministry added. Although known as “killer whales,” the endangered orcas are part of the dolphin family. They can measure up to eight meters and weigh up to six tons when they are adults.


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