Yacht Incident: Orca Collision Leads to Sinking in Strait of Gibraltar

Moroccan Waters Witness Turkish Yacht's Submersion after Orca EncounterWithin the Strait of Gibraltar's waters, a sailing yacht met its demise after a...

Moroccan Waters Witness Turkish Yacht's Submersion after Orca Encounter

Within the Strait of Gibraltar's waters, a sailing yacht met its demise after an encounter with an unspecified number of orcas, as reported by Spain's maritime rescue services.

Two individuals aboard the Alboran Cognac vessel were swiftly rescued by a passing oil tanker following the incident that occurred at 0900 local time (0800 BST) on Sunday.

This incident is part of a series of vessel collisions involving orcas around the Strait of Gibraltar over the past four years.

While scientists remain uncertain about the precise reasons behind this behavior, they speculate that these remarkably intelligent marine mammals may be exhibiting traits of "copycat" or "playful" conduct.

The maritime rescue service of Spain detailed that the passengers noted sudden impacts on the yacht's hull and rudder, leading to water ingress into the vessel.

Promptly alerting emergency services, the couple was rescued by a nearby oil tanker that transported them to Gibraltar.

Left adrift following the collision, the yacht eventually succumbed and sank.

Orca Collisions in the Strait of Gibraltar

Incidents involving orca collisions in the Strait of Gibraltar, one of the world's busiest water passages seeing around 300 ship crossings daily, have been on the rise over the last four years, extending to the Atlantic coast of Portugal and north-western Spain.

Experts suggest these events may involve a subpopulation of approximately 15 orcas, identified as "Gladis."

The research entity GTOA, monitoring the Iberian orca sub-species population, has recorded close to 700 interactions with these creatures since the initial reports of attacks in May 2020.

Initial attacks are believed to have commenced when one or two orcas, commonly known as killer whales, began interacting with and damaging small sailing vessels during that period.

One prevalent theory circulating on social media implies that the orcas are seeking retribution for White Gladis, a killer whale supposedly struck by a vessel, a notion spurred by assertions from Alfredo López Fernandez of the GTOA, suggesting a "traumatized orca" initiated the attacks.

However, animal behavior specialists cast doubt on this narrative, emphasizing the absence of evidence.

Neuroscientist Lori Marino, head of the Whale Sanctuary Project, refuted these claims, stating: "There has never been a documented case of an orca harming a human in the wild. If they truly intended harm, they could easily accomplish it."

The Playful Nature of Copycat Orcas

Instead, Lori proposes that these incidents likely began as manifestations of "play behavior" rather than aggression, highlighting the mimicry aspect of killer whales over outright hostility.

"We're dealing with incredibly intelligent beings capable of social learning," she asserts.

Scientists posit that these endangered creatures appear to be engaging with boats out of curiosity and mimicry, as opposed to aggressive intentions.

15 May 2024 - 14:18 - News

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