“I think there were six or seven animals, but it seemed like the juvenile ones - the smaller ones - were most active. In both cases, crews remarked on the risk of injury in trying to keep control of the wheel. A sense of curiosity and excitement very quickly turned to fear when one orca disappeared beneath the boat and there was a loud thumping sound from the hull. Finally, after two hours, as unexpectedly as it started, it all went quiet. They compared footage of the incidents to a catalogue of images captured and used by CIRCE to identify the animals. Later that same day, a Spanish naval yacht, Mirfak, lost part of its rudder after an encounter with orcas. Forget Jaws — this time it’s personal … for orcas. But while I was on the phone I could hear them ramming the boat. Read about our approach to external linking. Procedía de Finisterre con destino a Gijón con 2 tripulantes españoles. “It’s getting worse and worse,” says Dr Renaud de Stephanis, another biologist involved in the investigation. With their VHF radio out of range, they had to use the satellite phone to contact the coastguard, who advised them to switch off the motor and take down the sails. The incidents were similar, commencing with a loss of steering and violent movements of the wheel/ helm, followed by whales breaking the surface near the boats. And don’t know why,” he sighs. Orcas each have a uniquely shaped pale grey saddle patch behind their dorsal fin, which from the surface serves as a killer whale “fingerprint”. When the killer whales off the Spanish coast are chasing tuna, they can pursue them until the fish are exhausted. But when killer whales play, it can be frightening. The first reported incident was back in July, the most recent at the end of October. “I just find it weird. The force that we experienced, it must have hurt them,” he says. And they were behaving very strangely. “There could be an element of play, there could be an element of aggression - of trying to prove themselves.”. Some populations will only eat fish, preferring one particular type. On social media, amid gifs and jokes about the ocean fighting back, there were comments suggesting people on their yachts should “stay in their mansions” and that the orcas had been enlisted in a “fight against yacht owners”. They don’t just see the world, they hear it, echolocating and building a picture of their world based on a stream of visual and acoustic information that is all processed at the same time. David’s job, since he “quit the rat race to sail” back in 2013, is to deliver new boats to where their owners want them moored. “I’ve seen them hunting,” says Renaud. Through his conservation research organisation, CIRCE, he carried out work that helped the animals garner their officially protected status. The investigation’s conclusions, the official advice for boats about how to avoid these potentially dangerous interactions - even the news stories - hinge on understanding what drives that animals’ behaviour. Her boat needed to be towed to safety as a result of the damage sustained in the attack, which included a destroyed rudder. The scientists published their conclusions about the identity of the culprits, and immediately there were news reports of the “rogue pod” and the marauding “teenagers”. A spate of attacks on boats by killer whales along the coast of Portugal and Spain have left ocean scientists baffled. Experts who study some of the most intractable human-wildlife conflicts in the world, where people may feel their lives are threatened by the proximity of large predators and that their only option is to kill them, have pointed to the role of “provocative language” in fuelling these situations. In the past six months there have been at least 40 reported incidents involving orcas off the coasts of Spain and Portugal. Groups of killer whales have been reported attacking boats off the coasts of Spain and Portugal over the past few months, targeting sailboats from the Strait of Gibraltar in the southern Iberian peninsula to Galicia on Spain's northwestern Atlantic coast. Their survival remains precarious. Orcas then dived under the craft before commencing to bump and spin the yachts. As the light faded, the reverberating thuds from beneath the boat continued. Life alone in a concrete pool certainly bears little to no resemblance to the natural existence of a wild orca. But the ongoing conservation crisis does not explain why some of them suddenly started to behave so bizarrely and apparently aggressively around boats. As top predators, aggression, dominance and shows of strength are likely to be key elements of any formative “play”. Scientists and those who are used to sailing the Gibraltar Straits are baffled and concerned about recent attacks on boats in the area by pods (or possibly a particular pod) of orca, The Guardian reported. Multiple injuries have been reported, as well as significant damage inflicted on sailboats, many of which required rescue and had to be towed to shore for repairs. Later the same day, a Spanish naval yacht, Mirfak, lost part of its rudder after an encounter with a grouo of orcas under the stern in the Rias Baixas, as it was heading towards Baiona. Renaud, though, does admit being frustrated and genuinely worried by the orcas’ behaviour. The black and white orcas, the largest in … Others will work together to hunt other, sometimes much larger, whales. A mysterious spate of attacks by orca whales on boats off Spain's coast has prompted authorities to ban people setting sail from the country's northwestern tip. Since July, experts have recorded over thirty attacks on small boats. Groups of killer whales have been reported attacking boats off the coasts of Spain and Portugal over the past few months, targeting sailboats from the Strait of Gibraltar in the southern Iberian peninsula to Galicia on Spain's northwestern Atlantic coast. In several attacks over the last couple of months, orcas have damaged boats and injured sailors. Michael thinks there is something fundamental about our mentality around big predators. The biological puzzle of why this is happening remains an important one to solve. Killer whale pods have been attacking boats in Spain and Portugal since July (Credit: Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility, and Urban Agenda) Killer whales, or orcas, are the largest members of the oceanic dolphin family. 9. The repeated thudding, unsettling as it was, was not David’s biggest fear. The UK’s Sun newspaper reported that a “rogue pod” was attacking boats “in REVENGE”. “We can’t characterise them in one dimension. By Elian Peltier Sept. 20, 2020 It's not unusual to see killer whales in these Atlantic waters. We call it an interaction.”. In July, a sailing vessel had to be towed back to shore after a group of orcas repeatedly hit and damaged its rudder. Lori thinks we set ourselves up to misunderstand the species entirely by trying to lump their behaviour into simple categories like good or bad, aggressive or playful. The encounter is one of at least 40 similar incidents in the area. In 2010, international regulators slashed the annual catch that was permitted in the Mediterranean Sea. This website uses cookies. Radioaviso en Rías Bajas por avistamiento de orcas en zona. “I looked at this animal - and it was jet black and brilliant white.”. In late July, Morris was crewing a 46-ft delivery boat in Spain when nine orcas surrounded her. While orcas were historically hunted and viewed by fishing communities as dangerous pests, the 1960s saw the beginning of what was arguably an equally dangerous fascination with the animals. A French sailboat and a Spanish Navy vessel were attacked but escaped without any major damage,” the Spanish Maritime Rescue posted on Twitter. © Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, 2005–2021. A female orca leaps from the water while breaching in Puget Sound west of Seattle. “But we don’t want to call it an attack. Ya han sufrido acometida un velero francés y otro de la Armada sin daños mayores #SeguridadNautica (foto no referida al caso) pic.twitter.com/QmHdxAKHKZ. Spain has suspended yachting off its north-west coast after a series of attacks by orcas ramming into sailing boats in the Atlantic. Ruth says the language used in news stories and social media posts - even by the coastguard - has been adversarial and loaded. “If you look at how they respond to one another when they’re in a pod or a group - there’s a seamlessness to their interaction.”. They were ramming the keel, there was this horrible echo, I thought they could capsize the boat,” Morris said. “I don’t frighten easily and this was terrifying,” skipper David Smith recalls of a late evening in October when his boat was approached by what looked at first like dolphins. There are no recorded accounts of an orca in the wild killing a human. Victoria Morris was on a 46-foot boat in Spain on July 29 when an orca attacked the vessel. “They just play, play and play. Three orcas rammed a boat off the coast of Spain as it was travelling to Scotland. Since killer whales learn from each other, the young animals in that pod learned the same trick. “Parts of their brains - like the limbic system that you can think of as the emotional processor - they share with us,” she explains. The media coverage became stranger - and a little darker - when the scientists also revealed that Gladis white had quite a severe injury on his head: a gash that appeared to have been caused by a boat, possibly by a propeller. Back in the mid-1990s, Renaud and his colleagues noticed that one of these orca pods had started to steal tuna from tuna boats, eating the bluefin from the end of longlines that trail in the water. A ROGUE orca pod is carrying out revenge a ttacks on boats following a harpoon strike by poachers, an expert has warned. A group of ‘rogue’ orcas who have been ramming boats off the coasts of Spain and Portugal could be “playing”, according to experts. Recently, killer whales - assumed to be the Gladises - rammed into two fishing boats off the Portuguese coast. “But these guys, they are playing,” he says of the recent encounters between orcas and boats. “I just didn’t believe it at all at first,” says Dr Ruth Esteban, a softly spoken marine scientist who chooses her words carefully, not keen to speculate about something as multi-faceted and complex as orca behaviour. In September, the researchers started gathering evidence. For millennia they have pursued their favourite prey, bluefin tuna, as the fish migrate along the hundreds of miles of Portuguese and Spanish coast, and through the narrow Strait of Gibraltar, to breed in warmer Mediterranean waters. … In September three orcas repeatedly rammed a sailing boat off the coast of Spain for 45 minutes as it traveled to Scotland. In the past six months there have been at least 40 reported incidents involving Teeth marks were also found along the hull. Families generally stick closely together, with long-lived grandmothers helping to raise young and to teach youngsters to hunt. Last year, a juvenile that he thinks is probably one of the same animals repeatedly chased his small boat with its face pushed up to the propeller of its outboard motor. Killer whales orchestrating revenge attacks on boats off Spain According to The Guardian, over the last two months, several boats have been damaged as a result of attacks by orcas. So can any scientist, documentary-maker or sailor understand the mind of such a complex and intelligent marine predator? Over the past two months, orcas have damaged around a dozen boats off of Spain and Portugal, baffling marine biologists and sailors. It is a situation playing out around the world. 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