Orcas attack sailboats in the Mini Transat



Since the summer of 2020, more than a hundred interactions between killer whales and boats, mainly sailboats, have been recorded along the Iberian Peninsula, from Gibraltar to Galicia. Cetaceans that come into direct contact with these vessels by pushing and shocking them have, in some cases, resulted in ruptured appendages.

The specialists indicate that the killer whales approach the boats and collide with the rudders, and sometimes they break or tear them off. This is a surprising phenomenon, which is still quite incomprehensible “, says Denis Hugues, Race Director of the 23rd edition of the Mini Transat Eurochef.

To date, the reasons for this behavior remain uncertain, but some hypotheses have nevertheless been put forward. An animal reaction triggered by a specific aversive incident, the combination of several factors such as the pressures they face (shortage of prey, disturbance of boats, interaction with fisheries) or simply their natural curiosity are, therefore, explanations Therefore, the 90 Ministas should be vigilant off the Portuguese coast. Since April 2021, an action protocol has been implemented for browsers in the event of an interaction. Experience indicates that by following this protocol killer whales tend to lose interest in boats. “The first advice is to stop the machine, lower the sails and leave the rudder free to avoid damaging the rudders or the fins. By adopting these rules, the orcas end up going, ”explains Denis Hugues.