Whales appear to have targeted multiple boats travelling along the Strait of Gibraltar to Galicia over the last two months.
Sailor Victoria Morris described an incident to The Guardian that felt “totally orchestrated” after a group of nine whales surrounded a boat and rammed it for an hour.
“The noise was really scary. They were ramming the keel, there was this horrible echo, I thought they could capsize the boat,” Morris says. “And this deafening noise as they communicated, whistling to each other. It was so loud that we had to shout.”
According to MSN, the boat needed to be towed because of extensive damage. The crew later reported the rudder was rendered unusable and there were bite marks on the keel.
Researchers say it is very unusual for orcas to become so aggressive, though the highly intelligent animals are known to follow boats, and even nibble at rudders to play.
“I’ve seen these orcas grow from babies, I know their life stories, I’ve never seen or heard of attacks,” University of Seville marine biologist Rocío Espada told The Observer.
Espada added that it was possible the animals were stressed. The area features heavy boat traffic and has been overfished, dwindling the orcas’ food supply.
Noting the abnormal behaviour, Spanish authorities are warning boaters to keep away from any pods of killer whales.
Read more in The Guardian.