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Orcas sink yacht in Strait of Gibraltar

Orcas sank a sailing yacht after attacking it in Moroccan waters in the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain's maritime rescue service said on Monday (13), a new attack in a trend over the past four years.

The Alboran Cognac, which was 15 meters long and carried two people, encountered the highly social predators, also known as orcas, at 9am local time on Sunday, the service said.

Passengers reported feeling sudden blows to the hull and rudder before water began to enter the ship. After alerting rescue services, a nearby tanker took them on board and transported them to Gibraltar.

The yacht drifted and ended up sinking.

The case is the latest example of recurring orca attacks around the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Europe from Africa, and off the Atlantic coast of Portugal and northwestern Spain.

Experts believe they involve a subpopulation of around 15 individuals, given the designation “Gladis”.

According to research group GTOA, which tracks populations of the Iberian orca subspecies, there have been nearly 700 interactions since orca attacks on ships in the region were first reported in May 2020.

Researchers are uncertain about the causes of the behavior, with leading theories including it being a playful manifestation of the mammals' curiosity, a social fad, or the intentional targeting of what they perceive as competitors for their favorite prey, the local bluefin tuna.

Although known as killer whales, endangered orcas are part of the dolphin family. They can measure up to eight meters and weigh up to six tons as adults.

Source: CNN Brasil

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