Killer whales are living up to their reputation off the coast of Spain, but instead of attacking huge white sharks, pods of fish or seals as they have done in the past, they are now after humans and vessels.
According to The Guardian, some scientists think the killers of the deep are targeting yachts and ships due to injuries some of them suffered from rudders over the summer.
Since July, there have been at least 33 bizarre attacks in northern Spain, in the Strait of Gibraltar and off Portugal, including orcas circling small boats and intentionally ramming the rudders of ships and attempting to knock them over.
The attacks caused serious damage and, in some cases, the ships were destroyed.
The issue has become so serious that authorities warn small ships not to sail in those seas.
“The trigger for this strange and aggressive behaviour could have been an aversive incident that the orcas had with a boat, and in which the speed of the boat could have been a critical factor,” a group of scientists said in a statement to The Guardian.
“For the moment, we have no clear evidence of when it happened, nor can we say for sure what kind of boat may have been involved, nor whether the incident was accidental or deliberate.”
The researchers added that as a result of possible injury by boat, the orcas “may have felt compelled to act when they saw a sailboat in order to slow it down by going after its rudder” — and adding “the killer whales could simply be toying with sailboats ‘out of curiosity’ now that they had discovered the ability to slow or stop a large moving object.”
In late July, a pod of nine killer whales struck Victoria Morris ‘s boat, ramming the boat so hard that its rudder broke and the engine failed.
“The noise was really scary. They were ramming the keel, there was this horrible echo, I thought they could capsize the boat,” Ms Morris told The Guardian in another story. “And this deafening noise as they communicated, whistling to each other. It was so loud that we had to shout.” Ms Morris added the attack felt “totally orchestrated.”
“I felt a thump on the boat and the helm was pulled out of my hand,” he told the paper. “I was not really sure what was happening, then one of the animals broke the surface, on the left-hand side of the boat, for breath. You never know how these things are going to play out. None of us have ever been through anything like this before.”