Orcas Sink Another Yacht In The Strait Of Gibraltar

A particular group of around 15 orcas, known as ‘Gladis,’ is believed to be behind the attacks.

AP/Elaine Thompson
An Orca whale leaps out of the water, exposing her black and white belly to the air, off the coast of San Juan Island, Washington. AP/Elaine Thompson

A sailing yacht became the latest victim of an orca pod’s aggressive behavior in the waters near the Strait of Gibraltar.

Early Sunday morning, the crew of the 50-foot Alboran Cognac yacht faced a harrowing situation about 14 miles from Cape Spartel, Morocco, when their vessel was struck by orcas, leading to its eventual sinking.

Responding to the distress call made by the yacht’s crew at around 9 a.m., emergency services, including a helicopter and the nearby oil tanker MT Lascaux, were swiftly mobilized for the rescue operation, Fox News reports.

The two individuals aboard the yacht were safely evacuated by the tanker and brought to Gibraltar, while the damaged vessel was left adrift and later sank.

This incident adds to a growing list of similar orca encounters in the waterway dividing Europe and Africa and extending off the coasts of Portugal and northwestern Spain. A particular group of around 15 orcas, known as “Gladis,” is believed to be behind these occurrences.

The Atlantic Orca Task Force, a research group focused on the Iberian orca subspecies, has documented nearly 700 interactions with ships since the first reported incidents in May 2020. The reasons behind these orca attacks remain speculative, ranging from potential acts of revenge to playful behavior or a response to perceived threats to their food sources, notably the local bluefin tuna.

Marine biologist Alfredo Lopez Fernandez shared his insights with Live Science, suggesting the aggressive behavior could be traced back to a traumatic experience involving the pod’s lead female, known as White Gladis. A past collision with a boat or entanglement with fishing gear is thought to have significantly affected her behavior towards vessels.


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