Orcas attack and sink boat in Strait of Gibraltar causing rescue of two passengers

Orcas attack and sink boat in Strait of Gibraltar causing rescue of two passengers
Photo Courtesy: Robert Pittman/NOAA

A pod of orcas rammed into and sank a 50-foot yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar off the coast of Morocco on Sunday. 

The two passengers on the boat were able to send out an alert and were later rescued by an oil tanker and Moroccan authorities, according to a press release by Spain’s maritime rescue service.

The passengers reportedly felt sudden blows to the hull and rudder of the yacht which caused water to flow into the boat. They abandoned the ship upon rescue and it later sank.  

Orca have increasingly been ramming into boats in the Strait of Gibraltar. Hundreds of encounters have been reported in the region over the past four years. According to the BBC, experts believe one pod of 15 orcas dubbed “Gladis” are likely responsible for the attacks. 

It is unclear why the sea mammals started colliding with boats in 2020. Theories range from a desire to have fun to seeking revenge for an orca that was allegedly killed by a boat in 2020.  

"The idea of revenge is a great story, but there's no evidence for it," neuroscientist Lori Marino, president of the Whale Sanctuary Project previously told the BBC “If they really wanted to do damage and harm the people on the boat they could easily do that." 

She and other scientists believe the highly social and intelligent mammals are engaging in copycat playful behavior instead of aggression. 

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