Orcas are targeting sailboats near the Iberian Peninsula, and nobody knows why.
Most of the attacks involve multiple orcas ramming the boat but it remains afloat. In several cases, however, the animals have managed to sink entire boats.
The third case of orcas sinking a boat happened earlier this month off the Iberian coast, LiveScience reported.
“The attacks were brutal”
Skipper Werner Schaufelberger was sailing at night off the coast of Spain when three orcas started to attack his boat.
“At first I thought we had hit something. But then I quickly realized that it was orcas attacking the ship,” Schaufelberger told the German publication Yacht.
“The attacks were brutal. There were two smaller and one larger orca. The two little ones shook the rudder while the big one kept running and then rammed the ship from the side with full force,” he added.
The Spanish coast guard rescued Schaufelberger and the rest of the crew and towed the boat to port, where it sank right before reaching port.
It’s important to note that the vast majority of interactions with orcas don’t end with a sunk boat. These attacks near the Iberian Peninsula may be due to a single, traumatized orca that has taught this behavior to other, fellow orcas, LiveScience reporter.
“The orcas are doing this on purpose, of course, we don’t know the origin or the motivation, but defensive behavior based on trauma, as the origin of all this, gains more strength for us every day,” biologist Alfredo López Fernandez at the University of Aveiro in Portugal and representative of the Atlantic Orca Working Group, told LiveScience.