Killer whales damage boat in latest attack off Spain

Killer whales damage boat in latest attack off Spain

Killer whales severely damaged a sailboat off the coast of southern Spain on Thursday morning in an incident caught on camera.

The local maritime rescue service said a group of orcas broke the boat’s rudder and pierced the hull, ramming the Mustique as it sailed to Gibraltar.

The boat’s four-person crew contacted Spanish authorities for help, a spokesman told Reuters.

A fast-response vessel and a helicopter carrying a bilge pump were deployed on the boat, which was sailing under the British flag.

ORCA RAM BOAT OFF THE COAST OF MOROCCO

A view shows a sailboat damaged by killer whales off the coast of southern Spain, at a port in Barbate, Spain, May 24, 2023, in this photo obtained from social media. (April Boyes/Instagram@april_georgina/via REUTERS)

The Mustique is towed to the port of Barbate for repairs.

This attack is the latest in a series of orca attacks on ships off the coasts of Spain and Portugal.

Earlier this month another boat was completely swamped and sank after a similar impact.

People work on a sailboat

People remove water from a sailboat badly damaged by killer whales off the coast of southern Spain, May 24, 2023, in this still image obtained from social media video. (April Boyes/Instagram@april_georgina/via REUTERS)

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Off the coast of Morocco, a British couple recalled the moment they were sailing when killer whales started ramming their boat in an attack that lasted an hour.

It has been reported that scientists suspect the young whales may be mimicking the behavior of a traumatized killer whale called White Gladis.

Refloating a boat

People remove water from a sailboat badly damaged by killer whales off the coast of southern Spain, May 24, 2023, in this still image obtained from social media video. (April Boyes/Instagram@april_georgina/via REUTERS)

“The killer whales do it on purpose, of course, we don’t know the origin or the motivation, but a defensive behavior based on trauma, at the origin of all this, is gaining more strength for us every day”, Alfredo López Fernandez, who co-authored a June 2022 study on aggressive encounters off the Iberian coast, told LiveScience earlier this month.

In May, the Atlantic Killer Whale Working Group reported 18 such interactions this month in the region.

The group began tracking interactions and sightings in 2020.

orca swimming

An orca swims at the Marineland animal exhibition center in Antibes, on the French Riviera, France, December 12, 2013. (VALÉRY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

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The killer whale is the ocean’s top predator and the largest member of the dolphin family, according to NOAA Fisheries. They are found in all oceans of the world and all killer whale populations are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

It is estimated that there are around 50,000 killer whales worldwide and they can live for decades, with females typically living around 50 years and males for at least 60.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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