In a series of alarming incidents, killer whales have been attacking and damaging boats along the coasts of Spain and Portugal, a local maritime rescue service said Thursday.
A vengeful killer whale named White Gladis is believed to be orchestrating yacht attacks around Gibraltar. Three boats have already fallen victim to her aggression and two of them have sunk, the Telegraph reported.
Researchers believe Gladis is seeking revenge for trauma endured in a boat collision or from being entangled in illegal fishing nets. Other orcas have now adopted Gladis’ aggressive boat-ramming tactics, reported the Telegraph. (RELATED: Bizarre Noises Coming From Carry-On Bag Lead Officials To Make Smuggled Goods Discovery)
Most recently, a group of orcas inflicted severe damage to a sailing boat off the coast of southern Spain, Reuters reported. The sailing boat was en route to Gibraltar when the orcas attacked it. The powerful whales caused significant damage, breaking the rudder and puncturing the hull. The boat’s crew immediately contacted Spanish authorities for help.
Maritime rescue service deployed a rapid-response vessel and a helicopter equipped with a bilge pump. The sailing boat was towed to the port for necessary repairs, reported Reuters.
There have been at least 20 similar interactions in the Strait of Gibraltar this month alone, and in 2022, there were 207 reported incidents of such encounters.
“I kept reminding myself we had a 22-ton boat made of steel, but seeing three of them coming at once, quickly and at pace with their fins out of the water was daunting,” Mr Bidwell, a passenger on a yacht that was attacked in May told Telegraph. “A clearly larger matriarch was definitely around and was almost supervising.”
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw them,” Ms Morris told the outlet. “We were sitting ducks.”
New guidelines emphasize that any observation of abnormal behavior by orcas, such as sudden changes in direction or speed, should prompt the vessel to leave the area immediately, according to Spanish Transport Ministry.