Killer Whales Sink Another Boat

In an alarming incident that highlights the growing trend of orca rammings in the Strait of Gibraltar, an unidentified number of orcas were reported to have rammed a sailing yacht in Moroccan waters on Sunday morning. The attack caused extensive damage to the yacht, Alboran Cognac, which later sank, leaving the two crew members stranded in the water.

According to media reports, the distress call was made around 9 a.m., approximately 14 miles from Cape Spartel, a popular tourist attraction located at the southern entrance of the Gibraltar Strait. The Spanish maritime rescue service immediately dispatched a helicopter and also sought assistance from the nearby oil tanker MT Lascaux.

Thankfully, the tanker was able to rescue the stranded crew members and transport them safely to Gibraltar. However, the yacht was left adrift and eventually sank. This incident is the latest in a string of orca attacks reported in the region, causing panic among sailors and marine experts.

The orca rammings have been ongoing since May 2020, with the recent attack being the one with the highest reported damage so far. An Atlantic Orca Task Force (GTOA) that tracks populations of the Iberian orca subspecies has reported nearly 700 interactions with ships, with the majority of them resulting in minor injuries and damage. However, the attacks have increased in frequency, and in some instances, have led to boats sinking.

It is still unclear why the orcas are targeting boats, but experts have put forward various theories. Some believe that it may be a manifestation of their curiosity, while others suggest that it could be a form of play or a social fad among the apex predators. However, one of the more prominent theories is that the orcas may be seeking revenge for their leader, a female orca named White Gladis, who suffered a fatal injury, possibly due to a collision with a boat or entanglement with a fishing line.

Marine biologist Alfredo Lopez Fernandez, who has been studying the orcas, has stated that the lead whale’s aggressive behavior is most likely a desperate attempt to protect her pod, which consists of approximately 15 individuals.

This has led to concerns among the local community, who rely on fishing and tourism for their livelihood, as well as among sailors and marine experts who fear for their safety while navigating through the Strait of Gibraltar.

Meanwhile, the local authorities are actively seeking a solution to this recurring problem. Some have suggested implementing stricter regulations on boat traffic, while others have recommended conducting further research to understand the orcas’ behavior and find ways to coexist peacefully. The attacks have also sparked a debate on the impact of human activity on marine ecosystems and the need to address conservation measures for the critically endangered Iberian orca subspecies.

In the wake of this incident, the local authorities have once again urged people to be cautious while navigating in or around the Strait of Gibraltar and to report any sightings or encounters with the orcas to the relevant authorities immediately.

As the investigations continue and the experts work towards finding a solution, it is crucial for all stakeholders to work together to ensure the safety of both humans and these magnificent creatures.


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