Killer whales damage boat in latest attack off Spain
Orcas are the ocean's top predator
Killer whales severely damaged a sailboat off the coast of southern Spain early Thursday in an incident captured on video.
The local maritime rescue service said a group of orcas had broken the boat's rudder and pierced the hull, ramming the Mustique while it traveled to Gibraltar.
The boat's four-person crew contacted the Spanish authorities for assistance, a spokesman told Reuters.
A rapid-response vessel and a helicopter carrying a bilge pump were deployed to the boat, which was sailing under a British flag.
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The Mustique was towed to the port of Barbate for repairs.
This attack is the latest in a series of orca assaults on vessels on Spanish and Portuguese coasts.
Earlier this month, another boat was completely flooded and left to sink after a similar impact.
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Off the coast of Morocco, a British couple recalled the moment they were sailing when orcas started bumping their boat in an attack that lasted for an hour.
It was reported that scientists suspect young whales might imitate the behavior of a traumatized orca called White Gladis.
"The orcas are doing this on purpose, of course, we don't know the origin or the motivation, but defensive behavior based on trauma, as the origin of all this, gains 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 Orca Working Group has reported 18 such interactions this month in the region.
The group began tracking interactions and sightings in 2020.
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The killer whale is the ocean's top predator and the largest member of the dolphin family, per NOAA Fisheries. They are found in every ocean in 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 globally, and they can live for decades, with females typically living about 50 years and males for at least 60.
Reuters contributed to this report.