The incident is the latest attack after dramatic encounters have been reported in seas off of Gibraltar, Spain and Portugal this year.
Polish touring company Morskie Mile said in an October 31 Facebook post that a pod of orcas set their sights on the Grazie Mamma II in the Strait of Gibraltar.
The orcas, which can grow up to 30 feet long, ’caused major damage’ after attacking the boat’s steering fin for ’45 minutes’.
‘Despite attempts to bring the yacht to the port by the captain, crew and rescuers from the [search and rescue], port tugs and the Moroccan Navy, the unit sunk near the entrance to the port of Tanger Med,’ the company said.
‘The crew is safe, unharmed and sound already in Spain.’
Orcas, also known as killer whales but are actually the largest of the dolphin family, are apex predators that can even kill and gobble up blue whales.
While they rarely attack humans, orcas this year have rammed into dozens of sailboats, disrupting journeys or even sinking the vessels, according to the Atlantic Orca Working Group tracker.
This has all but puzzled scientists who say that while it’s not uncommon for orcas to follow and nudge boats, ramming is unusual for them.
Killer whales in the Strait of Gibraltar are endangered and for many years simply chased tuna all day long, causing headaches for local fishmongers.
However, researchers say that this all began to change in 2020 when the local pods began showing ‘disruptive’ behaviour, such as striking and turning rudders.
This has all but worried scientists who fear the interactions may lead to the orcas becoming injured, their numbers already dwindling in the region.
They point to many reasons behind the bizarre behaviour. Past trauma from earlier scuffles with boats, being transfixed by the propellers or simply being bored.
Morskie Mile, however, says that even the looming threat of orcas won’t discourage seafarers.
‘We sailed on this yacht around the most beautiful places in Europe and the Atlantic archipelagos,’ the company said.
‘Love of the sea always wins.’
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