attack of the orcas on the yacht: Sailors in the Strait of Gibraltar were left with a scare this Halloween after a group of killer whales tried to sink a yacht in a nearly hour-long attack.
Polish boat operator Morskie Mile said the orcas repeatedly attacked the boat’s helm for more than 45 minutes, causing serious damage and leaking.
Fortunately, everyone survived, but the incident is the latest in a worrying spate of orca pod attacks on boats in the region over the past few years.
Dubbed by some on social media the “orca wars,” pods of orcas collide with boats off the coast of Portugal near the Strait of Gibraltar.
Earlier this year, attacks were happening at a rate of about once a day, according to researcher Rui Alves, who collects data on the attacks.
His website, orca.pt, said that by October, things seemed to have calmed down a bit, but there were still seven recorded attacks along the coasts of Portugal, Gibraltar, Morocco, and southern Spain.
Researchers don’t know exactly why this happens, but there are two main hypotheses. The first is that killer whales—highly intelligent and social creatures—have invented a new fashion, something younger members of orca pods have been known to do.
Dr. Alfredo López Fernández, of the Grupo Trabajo Orca Atlántica (Atlantic Orca Working Group), told the Guardian another, more worrying, possibility is that it’s a response to fear caused by the presence of boats.
“[It can be] a response to an adverse situation. One or more people have had a bad experience and are trying to stop the boat so it doesn’t happen again. This behavior corresponds to the characteristics of adults.”
However, that doesn’t seem to have deterred the Polish tour operator from returning to the region. “They hit the rudder fin, which caused major damage and leakage,” Morski Mile captain Lech Levandovsk wrote in a translated statement.
Despite the efforts of the captain, crew, and rescuers, as well as with the help of port tugs and the Moroccan navy, the ship sank near the entrance to the port of Tangier-Med. The crew is currently safe in Spain.
“This yacht was the best sailing show for all of us. Lifelong friendships were formed on board. We sailed the most beautiful places in Europe and the Atlantic archipelago, trained captains of many yachts, discovered beautiful and unknown lands, tasted delicious Mediterranean flavors, and rowed, and rowed, and rowed.
We will have great memories at Grazie Mamma II. “The love of the sea always wins and friendships will stay with us.”
“We are working to ensure that future trips to the Canary Islands will take place as planned on yachts owned by our friends. We will be in touch with all our guests in the coming days.”