The orcas of the Straight of Gibraltar have been waging war on boats for some time now. The latest encounter took place on Tuesday, when a Polish yacht named the Grazie Mamma II was attacked by an orca pack for 45 minutes and ultimately sunk.
The company that owns the yacht, Morskie Mile, released a statement revealing the nature of the attack, according to the Mirror. “On October 31, 2023, in the Strait of Gibraltar, in the early afternoon, our yacht was attacked by a pack of killer whales,” wrote a Morskie Mile representative. “They hit the rudder blade for 45 minutes, causing major damage and a leak. Despite attempts to bring the yacht to port made by the captain, the crew and rescuers from the SAR, port tugboats and the Moroccan Navy, the unit sank near the entrance to the Tangier Med port. The crew is safe and sound in Spain.” According to Poland-24, six crew members were evacuated by a rescue boat.
Since 2020, there have been over 500 interactions between orcas and boats, in which the creatures have sunk three vessels and disabled dozens more, as CNN reported earlier this year. “We have two theories about why these interactions started,” said Mónica González, a marine biologist with CEMMA, an NGO studying the orcas in Gibraltar. “The first is that the orcas are just playing, and the other is that one animal suffered an aversive moment and the orcas are trying to stop the boats to prevent it from happening again — but we don’t know exactly what happened in the first place.”
In the wake of the loss of the Grazie Mamma II, the owners stated, “We are working to ensure that the upcoming cruises in the Canary Islands take place as planned on our friends’ yachts. We will contact all our guests in the coming days.” The company has also announced its intention to rebuild the vessel.