Killer whale destroys ships in Spanish and Portuguese waters with puzzling new behavior


BARCELONA, SPAIN (AP) — A horde of killer whales repeatedly rammed a yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar this week…

BARCELONA, SPAIN (AP) — A horde of killer whales repeatedly rammed a yacht into the Strait of Gibraltar this week. causing enough damage to cause Spanish rescuers to intervene to rescue the four crew members.

It is the latest in a series of stories about the perplexing behavior of orcas living on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula. which led researchers to find out why

Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service said the killer whale had run into the mustique. which is a 20 meter (65 foot) vessel that has repeatedly sailed under the UK flag. on Wednesday evening This rendered the rudder inoperable and the hull broken. Spanish rescuers had to pump out seawater before dragging her to safety.

The alert reached the Spanish service through its British counterpart, who forwarded the emergency call. Spanish service said Helicopters and rescue boats were deployed to help the damaged ship dock in Barbate.

This is the 24th event registered by the service this year. The service does not provide information from last year.

But the working group of Atlantic Orca, a Spanish-Portuguese team of marine life researchers studying killer whales near the Iberian Peninsula, said these incidents were first reported three years ago. In 2020, the group got down. 52 such incidents were registered, some of which resulted in damage to the rudder. This increased to 197 in 2021 and to 207 in 2022.

The killer whale appears to be targeting the ship in a wide arc that covers the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula. From the waters near the Strait of Gibraltar to Galicia in northwestern Spain.

from group data These killer whales are a small group of about 35 whales that spend most of the year near the Iberian coast chasing red tuna called Iberian orcas, with an average length ranging from 5 to 6½ meters. 16-21 ft) compared to the Antarctic orca, which can be up to 9 m (29½ ft) long.


There were no reports of attacks on swimmers. The interaction on the ship seems to stop when the ship is immobilized.

Biologist Alfredo López, from the University of Aveiro and a member of the research group, said the event was rare and bizarre.

“In case we can’t see it in the video. We have seen any behavior That might be considered aggressive,” Lopez told The Associated Press by phone on Friday. “They look calm, not like hunting.”

López said that while the reason for the change in behavior is unknown, But his group has identified 15 whales involved in the incident, he said, 13 of them young. One might support the hypothesis that they were playing with each other, while the other two were adults, which might support a competing theory that the behavior resulted from a traumatic event with the ship.

in any case He said whales are showing once again that they are social creatures.

“Orcs are animals with their own culture,” he said. “They send information to each other.”

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