Published On: Fri, Apr 12th, 2024

Killer whales make deadly return as attacks on yachts begin again in warmer weather | World | News

Killer whales are making their return for the summer as warmer weather sees attacks on yachts begin.

A difficult summer is anticipated in the Strait of Gibraltar with boats preparing for dangerous interactions with orcas. More than 250 boats have been damaged by the whales since 2020.

Just four weeks ago, a group of young orcas bit the rudder of a French boat. The crew scared the whales away using a flare and managed to make it back to port.

Around the same time, orcas bit the rudder of a sailboat belonging to a team in the Quebec-Saint Maloo regatta near Morocco.

In recent weeks there have been sightings of orcas between Lisbon and Cape San Vicente, which suggests that the orcas are heading towards the Strait of Gibraltar.

The presence of orcas in the Mediterranean may be down to them following tuna, their favourite food, which are moving from the Atlantic into warmer waters to mate.

This also happened last summer, with the peak of incidents between boats and the whales happening in August, with one crew even shooting at a school of orcas, leading to a criminal investigation.

About half of the boats that orcas interact with take any kind of damage, which tends to be concentrated on the rudder.

Experts have said that the orcas are not confusing the boats and rudders for anything else, they know what they are and the effect they have. Stopping the engine and all movement tends to make orcas lose interest.

Sailors have been told to stay out of the sight of orcas and not shout, try to hit them, touch them, or throw things at them as this can stimulate them into interacting with the boat. Experts say the incidents are not aggressive but are likely intended as playful or protective.

There are no direct intentional attacks by orcas in the wild on humans. These orcas do not eat seals or anything that would make them mistake humans for food.

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