NEWS

Orcas attack boats off the coasts of Spain and Portugal, leaving scientists confused: NPR

Orca pod seen in the Strait of Gibraltar in 2021.

 

Renaud de Stephanis / CIRCE Conservación Information and Research

Hide caption

Caption switch

 

Renaud de Stephanis / CIRCE Conservación Information and Research

Orca pod seen in the Strait of Gibraltar in 2021.

 

Renaud de Stephanis / CIRCE Conservación Information and Research

 

Esther Kristen Storksson was sleeping on her father’s tiny yacht earlier this month, sailing off the coast of France, when she awoke violently.

Scrambling onto the deck, she saw several orcas, or killer whales, surrounding them. The steering wheel was swaying violently. At one point, the 37-foot-long schooner was pushed 180 degrees, heading in the opposite direction.

They were “hitting the boat,” says Storksson. “that they [hit] Time and time again… giving us the impression that it was a coordinated attack.”

“I told my dad, ‘I’m not thinking clearly, so you have to think for me,'” says the 27-year-old Norwegian medical student. “Fortunately, he is a very calm and centered person, and he made me feel safe by speaking kindly about the situation.”

After about 15 minutes, the orcas separated, leaving the father and daughter to assess the damage. They put a GoPro camera In the water, she says, she could see “almost three-quarters of a [the rudder] It was cut, and some metal was bent down.”

Screenshot from video of the encounter between a group of orca and a Storksun boat.

 

Esther Kristen Storkson /

Hide caption

Caption switch

 

Esther Kristen Storkson /

 

Screenshot from video of the encounter between a group of orca and a Storksun boat.

 

Esther Kristen Storkson /

 

For any ship, loss of steering at sea is dangerous and can be dangerous in adverse conditions and Some sailboats had to be towed In port after Orcas destroyed their rudders. Fortunately, the Storksons had enough of their rudders left limping in Brest, on the French coast, for repairs. But the accident temporarily spoiled their plan to reach Madeira, off northwest Africa, as part of an ambitious plan to circumnavigate the world.

there There is no record of orcas killing a human in the wild. However, there were two boats Reportedly drowned Via Orcas off the coast of Portugal last month, in the worst confrontation of its kind since authorities tracked them down.

The incident involving the Storksons is says Renaud de Stephanis, president and coordinator of CIRCE Conservación Information and Research, a cetacean research group based in Spain. It was further north Not near the Strait of Gibraltar or the coast of Portugal or Spain, where other such reports have surfaced.

This is a puzzle. So far, scientists have assumed that only a few animals participate in these encounters and that they are all from the same group, says de Stefanis.

“I really don’t understand what happened there,” he admits. “It’s too far. I mean, I don’t think so [the orcas] He’ll go up there for a few days and then come back.”

These encounters – most scientists avoid the word “attack” – have attracted the attention of sailors and scientists alike in the past two years, as their frequency appears to be on the rise. navigation magazines And the Locations He wrote about the phenomenon, noting that orca whales seem to be particularly drawn to the rudders of a boat. a Facebook group, with over 13,000 members, has grown up to share personal reports of orca boat encounters and speculation about avoidance tactics. And of course, there’s no shortage of drama Videos Posted on YouTube.

Scientists don’t know why, but they have some ideas

Scientists hypothesize that orcas are like the water pressure created by a boat’s propeller. “What we think is that they’re asking to put the fan in its face,” de Stefanis says. So, when they encounter a sailboat that isn’t powered by its engine, “they get kind of frustrated and that’s why they break the rudder.”

However, that doesn’t fully explain the experience Martin Evans had last June when he was helping deliver a schooner from Ramsgate, England, to Greece.

About 25 miles off the coast of Spain, “shy of entering the Strait of Gibraltar,” Evans and his companions were at sail, but they were also running the boat’s engine while using a propeller to increase their speed.

As Evans watched, the steering wheel began to move so violently that he could not stand it, he says.


Martin Evans
Youtube

“I was like, ‘Jesus, what is this?'” he remembers. “It was as if a bus was driving it… I looked to the side, and suddenly I saw that familiar black and white killer whale.”

Evans noted “parts of the rudder on the roof”.

The population of Orcas along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts is very small. Scientists believe damage to boats occurs only by a small number of juvenile males, says Jared Towers, director of Bay Cetology, a research organization in British Columbia.

“There’s just something about moving the parts…it seems to motivate them,” he says. “Maybe that’s why they focus on the rudders.”

If a small number of orcas are involved, de Stefanis says, they may simply outgrow the behaviour. As the young get older, they will need to help the pod find food and will have less time to play with the sailboat.

He speculates “This is a game.” “When they have … their own adult life, it will probably stop.”

An orca calf, photographed in the Strait of Gibraltar, in 2021.

 

Renaud de Stephanis / CIRCE Conservación Information and Research

Hide caption

Caption switch

 

Renaud de Stephanis / CIRCE Conservación Information and Research

 

An orca calf, photographed in the Strait of Gibraltar, in 2021.

 

Renaud de Stephanis / CIRCE Conservación Information and Research

 

Towers notes that such “games” tend to go in and out of fashion in orca society. For example, at the moment in a community studying in the Pacific Ocean, “we have young males … who often interact with shrimp and lobster traps,” he says. “It was just a fad for a few years.”

Back in the ’90s, for some Pacific orcas, something else was in vogue. “They kill fish and just swim with this fish on their heads,” Towers says. “We just don’t see it anymore.”

#Orcas #attack #boats #coasts #Spain #Portugal #leaving #scientists #confused #NPR News Source:

What's your reaction?

Related Posts

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.