The killer whales that this summer have ‘harassed’ small sailboats in the Strait – at least 69 times, of which 30 required towing due to losing the rudder – had previously been the target of attacks and harpoons.
This peculiar behavior of killer whales occurs in the Strait of Gibraltar and its surroundings.
These harassment events have led to the prohibition of sailing sailboats of up to fifteen meters in Ensenada de Barbate, Cádiz, until September 7 to avoid risky situations, since cetaceans seem to have specialized in breaking the rudder of these boats , leaving them adrift, with the consequent risks.
That unprecedented behavior of the killer whales, extraordinarily intelligent and empathetic animals, is a response to the attacks they suffered last summer and have continued to suffer this summer.
It was found that there are killer whales with wounds, with scars, and some that had been harpooned with a hook, repeated episodes during this summer.
They do not attack, they only “protest”
The killer whales, which can weigh up to five and a half tons, do not attack sailboats, which they could easily wreck because “they are very clever and they know we can kill them.”
That is why the contacts that this summer have become so frequent and that until last year had practically not occurred, he interprets as “a protest” of the animals.
The killer whales have only come into contact with small sailboats, which carry the propeller in front and far apart from the rudder, which allows them to bite it without risk and render the boats useless.
It is recommended in case of contact with killer whales, to leave the rudder still and aligned with the hull of the boat, to stop the boat by folding sails and stopping the machine and not to look over the side or shout.
When the confinement due to covid-19 was ended last year, many sailboats left with permission to carry out sport fishing for tuna and like orcas, since the years of tuna scarcity, whose banks are now recovered, they learned to dispute them By ripping them off the line, they received these attacks from the crew of some sports sailboats.
Historically, killer whales and men have coexisted and even collaborated in fishing for tuna, since every spring, when the shoals of tuna reach the Mediterranean, the killer whales corner them and push them towards the traditional Cadiz traps that fish them through this millennial art.
The killer whale swims at 50 kilometers per hour and the tuna can do it at 90, so the cetacean, to hunt them, is organized into groups that harass and surround them.
The Iberian killer whale, cataloged in danger of extinction, currently has five groups in the Strait with an estimated total of about fifty members.