Researchers discovered an unusual behavior of killer whales, also known as “orcas.” They found out that the marine animals mysteriously attacks sailboats near Portugal and Spain.
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The sailors have sent threatening calls after encountering the orcas’ attacks from southern to northern Spain within the last two months. They reported that two of their boats lost part of their rudders, and one crew member was injured because of the impacts.
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Several sailboats also suffered from severe damage caused by the killer whales. A new attack happened on Friday, Sept. 11, just off A Coruna, on Spain’s northern coast.
Pete Green, the Halcyon Yachts’ managing director, said that one of their boats, delivering a 36ft ship to the United Kingdom, was rammed by an orca, damaging the ship’s stern at least 15 times. He said that the boat was towed into port after it lost steering, to assess its damage.
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During that attack on Halcyon Yachts, there were also radio warnings of orca sightings at Vigo, 70 miles south. The signals received were near the site of two latest collisions.
Another incident occurred on Aug. 30 after a French-flagged boat contacted the coastguard, saying that killer whales attacked their ship. After that day, Mirfak, a Spanish naval yacht, was also rammed by orcas, losing part of its rudder under the boat’s stern.
Orcas are highly intelligent social mammals, given that they’re the largest kind of the dolphin family. The scientists explained that killer whales usually come close to the boat because of their curiosity.
However, after studying a small population in the Strait of Gibraltar, the experts said that the orcas’ force to interact with the boats is unusual. The Spanish maritime authorities warned the sailboats not to get near the marine creatures.
However, sailors said that it is difficult to keep their distance since at least one group of orcas appears to be following the boats. The experts explained that it is too early to understand the “highly unusual” and “concerning” behavior of the killer whales. But, they suggest that the orcas’ actions might indicate that they’re stressed.
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Written by: Giuliano de Leon.