Incidences of orcas ramming into boats along the Portuguese and Spanish coasts have left sailors terrified and scientists confused. Over the past two months, several incidences have been reported of orcas colliding into boats in an orchestrated manner. Two boats lost parts of their rudders, several more boats had extensive damage, and at least one crew member was reported injured. The Spanish and Portuguese coast guard services have been receiving plenty of distress calls related to the orcas. Scientists are now trying to figure out why this is happening, with some wondering if stress on the orcas is playing a part in their newly violent behavior.
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The latest attack occurred on Friday, Sept. 11 off the coast of Spain. Halcyon Yachts had a 36-foot boat headed for the U.K. when an orca rammed the vessel 15 times, causing it to lose its steering. The boat was forced to dock for repairs.
There have also been orca sightings 70 miles south of the site of Friday’s incident. This location, near Vigo, Spain, has experienced similar attacks in the recent past. On August 30, a French boat radioed the coast guard to report being hit by killer whales. On the same day, a Spanish naval yacht lost a portion of its rudder after being hit by orcas.
Due to the increased number of these incidences, Spanish maritime authorities have cautioned sailors to steer clear of the regions that are most affected by the attacks. But sailors suggest that this may not be possible. According to some sailors, at least one orca pod seems to be pursuing boats, even if they avoid affected regions. This behavior has baffled many scientists, most terming it ”unusual” and “concerning”.
Orcas are among the most highly intelligent mammals on earth. They are also the largest species in the dolphin family. Scientists who study these animals say that it is normal for orcas to follow boats, but it is not in their nature to be violent. Although scientists think it is too early to make conclusions, some believe this behavior might be due to stress, which is exacerbated by the presence of boats.
Via The Guardian
Image via Nature-Pix