Orcas sank a sailboat in the Strait of Gibraltar

An unknown number of killer whales sank a sailboat after it rammed it in Moroccan waters in the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain’s maritime rescue service said Monday, a new attack in what has become a trend in the past four years.

The 15-meter-long Alboran Cognac with two passengers on board encountered these highly social predators, also known as killer whales, at 9:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on Sunday, according to the service.

Passengers reported feeling sudden hits on the boat’s hull and rudder before water began to enter the boat. After alerting rescue services, a nearby oil tanker took them to Gibraltar.

The yacht was left adrift and ended up sinking.

This incident is the latest example of frequent orca shipwrecks around the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Europe from Africa, and off the Atlantic coast of Portugal and northwestern Spain.

Experts believe it is a subpopulation of about 15 individuals given the name “Gladys.”

According to the GTOA Research Group, which tracks subspecies populations of Iberian killer whales, there have been nearly 700 interactions since killer whale attacks on ships in the region were first reported in May 2020.

Researchers are not sure what causes this behavior, although major theories suggest it is a playful display of mammalian curiosity, a social fad, or a deliberate attack on what they see as competitors to their preferred bluefin tuna prey.

Although they are known as killer whales, the endangered species is part of the dolphin family. They can reach eight meters in length and weigh six tons when they become adults. (With information from NA)

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