Orca interactions need reporting, says Cruising Association

The Cruising Association (CA) and Groupo Trabajo Orca Atlantica (GTOA) have partnered to launch a new online orca reporting form. The aim is to investigate orcas interacting with vessels along the Iberian Peninsula. And, crucially, to note how many uneventful passages take place.

The phenomenon of orcas damaging small yachts and other vessels along the south and west coasts of Spain and Portugal is linked with the migration of tuna exiting the Mediterranean from the Strait of Gibraltar and heading West and North around the Iberian Peninsula, primarily between the months of June and October.

Marine Industry News reported on such an incident in July 2021 when a sailor said he felt he was “caught up in a horror film” as a pod of 30 orca whales repeatedly attacked the yacht he was crewing on. The incident happened near the Gibraltar straits.

The CA and GTOA says the data gathering project will collect evidence of interactions and uneventful passages, investigate patterns of behaviour and improve further the advice to vessels transiting the Iberian Peninsula. Reports are invited from across the boating community.

Interaction reports are displayed by location map pin, with the uneventful passages in list format. The data submitted includes factors such as date/route of passage, sea state/wind speed, boat speed, day/night, cloud cover, distance off land, sea depth, hull/antifoul colour, type of rudder. The reports also share the skipper’s comments on specific precautions taken and information on the experience if there was an interaction.

The CA and GTOA investigations aim to establish if environment, weather and other specific vessel factors have any measurable impact on the likelihood of an orca interaction or uneventful passage.

“To maximise the effectiveness of the online reporting project, the Cruising Association encourages skippers of sail and motor boats to submit reports right through until the tuna migration season ends around October,” says Derek Lumb, president of the Cruising Association. “Once we have received sufficient reports, the aim is to compare and present a statistical summary of data received from interactions against the same data set reported by boats on passage through the affected area without an interaction. The CA will publish all reports received in order to share information with the entire boating community.”

Published reports are available online.

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