Page 52: of Marine Technology Magazine (October 2020)

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What’s Up with the Agressive Killer Whales?

Orcas batter sailboats off Spain, Portugal, behavior baf? es experts

There are many mysteries in the mari- off the coast of Galicia alone. In a report published by the Guard- time environment. For Sailors along Several sailing vessels, including Urki ian newspaper, Victoria Morris, a biol-

Spain and Portugal’s Atlantic coastline, 1, Amadeus, and the Spanish Navy’s ogy graduate student and crewmember there has been a recent series of puz- racing boat Mirfak, had to be towed into aboard one of the boats, said she felt zling incidents involving apparently ag- port by Salvamento Maritime rescue like the attack was coordinated. “The gressive orcas. vessels because of signi? cant damage to noise was really scary. They were ram-

While orcas are not known to attack their steering gear. On July 29, a vessel ming the keel, there was this horrible humans, they can cause damage to off Cape Trafalgar reported that it was echo, I thought they could capsize the boats. In a series of incidents along the surrounded by nine orcas that rammed boat. And this deafening noise as they

Spanish and Portuguese coasts between the hull for over an hour, turning the communicated, whistling to each other.

Gibraltar and Galicia, groups of orcas boat around, damaging the propulsion It was so loud that we had to shout.” have been recorded swimming near system and disabling the rudder. The Her four-person crew radioed the sailboats and other vessels, and in some boat radioed authorities to report it was coastguard with a distress call about an cases acting together in such a way as “under attack” by killer whales. On “Orca Attack.” The authorities were as- the people on those boats thought them- Sept. 11, a yacht was being transported tonished. “You’re saying you’re under selves to be in grave danger. from Spain to the UK and was rammed attack from orca?” the coastguard re-

The Spanish Maritime Search and Res- more than a dozen times by Orcas, lost plied. When they were towed into port, cue Agency, Salvamento Maritimo, has steering and had to be towed into port to they found their keel was covered in bite reported multiple sailing vessels yachts make repairs. marks and two-thirds of the rudder was have been damaged by encounters with Some witness reported that the killer torn away. Orcas are the largest mem- orcas. whales communicated with one an- bers of the dolphin family, and can grow

According to the New York Times, the other with extremely loud and high- to be 30 feet long and weight 6 tons.

Spanish Ministry of Ecology recorded pitched noises as they were bat- Like dolphins, they are intel-

Orcas 13 orca encounters since mid-August tering the vessels. ligent and social, and can swim behind a sailboat as it’s be- ing towed to safety after what crew- members describe as a killer whale attack. 52 October 2020

MTR #8 (50-63).indd 52 10/9/2020 11:08:38 AM

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