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Iberian orcas strike again in the Strait of Gibraltar, sinking a 15-metre vessel
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Iberian orcas strike again in the Strait of Gibraltar, sinking a 15-metre vessel

The two crew members were rescued by an oil tanker

La Voz

Cádiz

Thursday, 16 May 2024, 09:44

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An unspecified number of orcas have sunk a sailing vessel after ramming it in Moroccan waters off the Strait of Gibraltar, as reported by the Spanish maritime rescue service last week. This most recent attack adds to what has become a trend over the past four years.

The vessel Alboran Cognac, a 15-metre boat carrying two passengers , encountered the orcas, predatory mammals often found swimming in groups (pods), at 9am local time on Sunday, according to rescue services.

Both crew members reported feeling a series of hefty bumps to the hull and rudder before water started coming in. After raising the alarm with the rescue services, a nearby tanker took them on board and transported them to Gibraltar. The yacht drifted and eventually sank.

The incident is the latest example of the recurrent wrecking of boats by orcas around the Strait of Gibraltar, the strip of sea that separates Europe from Africa, and further incidents have occurred off the Atlantic coast of Portugal and north-west Spain.

Experts believe that this is a pod of about 15 individual orcas now known as "Gladis".

According to research group GTOA , which monitors populations of the Iberian orca as a subspecies of orcas in general, there have been almost 700 encounters since orca attacks on boats were first reported in these waters in May 2020.

Researchers are unsure of the causes of this behaviour, although leading theories point to it being either a playful manifestation of these mammals' natural curiosity, or just a fad taken up by this particular pod, or that the orcas are definitely attacking objects that they perceive as competition for their favourite prey, the sea lion.

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