Orcas sank another boat near Iberia, making sailors nervous before the summer

Summer is approaching, which means orcas will be out and about near the Strait of Gibraltar – which is bad news for sailors.

According to Spain’s maritime rescue agency, two people were rescued on Sunday after an attack by a group of orcas caused enough damage to sink their boat. This is the fifth such sinking in waters off the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa in recent years.

Rescue services said the Alboran Cognac, a sailing yacht about 50 feet long, was approached by the animals on Sunday morning, about 15 miles from Cape Spartel in Morocco. Crew members on board reported that the animals were hitting the ship’s hull, damaging the rudder and causing a leak.

Rescue authorities said a nearby tanker quickly moved towards the boat and evacuated two sailors, who were taken to Gibraltar. The boat was abandoned and Moroccan authorities reported that it eventually sank.

This is the first boat to sink in these waters this year after an accident involving orcas. A group of orcas passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and nearby waters troubled sailors and curious marine biologists, who are studying populations. Since 2020, orcas have disrupted dozens of boating trips in these high-traffic waters, in some cases smashing ships hard enough to cause serious damage.

Last November, The orca hit the yacht’s rudder hard for 45 minutes, causing the crew to abandon ship and the ship sank near the port of Tanger Med.

This group is more likely to appear on busy routes around the Gulf of Cádiz and the Strait of Gibraltar between April and August, The Spanish government said in a press release, and sailors have spotted several orcas there in recent weeks.

Researchers don’t know why this group targets boats, but they hypothesize that this behavior is a form of play by curious apex predators. The interactions have become so frequent that they are now a multinational affair, involving scientists and officials from Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Online, Anxious sailors gathered to share advice on navigating “orca alley” and the biologists tracking orca movements and testing methods that might deter them.

In the event of an orca encounter, the government has advised that when releasing killer whales, boats should not stop and instead head for shallower waters closer to the coast.

But the number of incidents may be decreasing: Researchers at Atlantic Orca Working Group speak in Monday that the number of orca interactions with boats from January to May decreased by about 40%, compared to similar periods over the past three years.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *