Killer whales began to attack boats with tourists near popular resorts

Killer whales started attacking boats with tourists near popular resorts

Two tourists were rescued after killer whales attacked near the Spanish resort of Barbate. Predators attacked travelers in the middle of the night, Spanish media reported.

Orcas attacked off the southern coast of Spain, near the luxurious resort of Barbate, municipality of Cadiz. It is not yet known how many animals attacked the boat, but the passengers were so worried that they called for help. At 2:25 a.m. at night, marine rescuers received a request for help and immediately went to the tourists in distress. The boat was intercepted and towed to port at 4:00 am. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Note that this is not the first time killer whales have attacked the Spanish coast. So, in October 2021, the Spanish government launched a major investigation to find out why killer whales attacked boats in Gibraltar and the autonomous community of the country – Galicia.

The Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Affairs commissioned the study following a series of mammalian attacks on tourists that began in the summer of 2020. According to scientists, more than 60 incidents occurred in a short time. Predators pursued tourist yachts and boats and terrified passengers. At the same time, scientists believe that not all animals attacked, but only a few individuals. About 15 percent of the incidents had material consequences for the ships involved.

The Ministry released the following information: “The interaction of young killer whales with boats of various types to satisfy their curiosity has been a common occurrence in the waters of the Strait of Gibraltar and the southern coast of Portugal in recent years. On the other hand, the interaction with sailboats is considered unprecedented due to the physical contact of the specimens with the structure of the boats.” Some experts believe killer whales play with boats, but doubts remain as to what causes this behaviour.

After one of the first attacks last year, one of the crew members recalled what was happening on the ship during the attack: “Our team had just left A Coruña (a major resort city in northwestern Spain) and were a couple of miles (3.2 km) from the shore, when the crew suddenly felt that the rudder was being pulled out of their hands.”

Later, the yacht was taken in tow, but the blows that the killer whales inflicted continued. As a result, they broke the tow rope. When the yacht was hauled ashore, there were distinct bite marks on the hull and the rudder was broken in two.

And after another incident, one of the crew members of the yacht said the following: “I knew in advance about the encounter with killer whales, but I thought that we had sort of gone through the worst part of it by the time we were taken in tow. Around Cadiz (province of Spain) there are two small shallow reservoirs. I was on watch and the boat was on autopilot. Then I turned around and saw the boat's rudder flying to the left, then to the right, then to the left again, then to the right, breaking on the binnacle (the box in which the ship's compass is located, as well as some other navigational tools). I turned off the autopilot and took manual control, and killer whales appeared everywhere on either side of me. I think we got hit on the steering wheel 100 or 200 times. It was consistent! They were there for an hour. We lowered the sails as instructed, and in the end they left. But they were gone only 20 minutes, then they returned again. We saw them resurface in the distance and head straight for us. They were very focused on their task.”

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