Orcas Strike Again, Sinking Yacht as Oil Tanker Called for Rescue

Orcas Strike Again, Sinking Yacht as Oil Tanker Called for Rescue

Guess who’s back.


The orcas are back at it again, this time straight-up sinking a yacht near the Strait of Gibraltar.

As the New York Times reports, two people had to be rescued after a group of orcas attacked the Alboran Cognac, a 50-foot-long sailing yacht, about 14 miles off the coast of Morocco.

According to those on board, the animals replayed their greatest hits by going for the yacht’s rudder, slamming its hull, and ultimately causing the vessel to spring a leak.

During the attack, the two-person crew radioed a nearby oil tanker for help, and it maneuvered over to where they were, evacuated them, and took them to Gibraltar. The Alboran Cognac, according to Moroccan maritime authorities, was left adrift and eventually sank.

While it’s unclear if the orcas in question are part of the same pod that’s been plaguing sailors around the Iberian peninsula in recent years, their behavior suggests that it either was the OG culprits of the attacks that garnered so many headlines last year or that the clever predators have been teaching other groups their ways.

Orcapalypse Now

As the Grupo de Trabajo Orca Atlántica (GTOA) told the Washington Post, there have been an average of 168 orca-ship interactions per year since 2020, when this sort of behavior began ramping up in the region.

Thus far in 2024, the researchers have tracked 26 interactions, which according to its website could be anything from approaching or observing a ship to coming up and touching it. That number, GTOA said, is down from 61 from the same time frame in 2023.

As the NYT noted in its reporting, however, the Alboran Cognac is the first boat to sink due to an orca attack this year.

Last summer in particular, the attacks seemed to be occurring on a near-daily basis, with some sailors reporting that their ships had been targeted twice or even thrice by furious orca pods in the same day.

There have been various theories as to why the animals, which are sometimes referred to as “killer whales” despite concerns from conservationists over the term’s stigma, have begun attacking vessels so often the past few years. Some experts suggest that orcas, which are highly intelligent and share a lot of psychological traits with humans, are rocking and socking boats for fun. Others believe that the main attacking pod’s leader, known as White Gladis, may have been acting out of revenge due to previous boat-related trauma she’d experienced.

Whatever the case may be, it seems that late spring and early summer 2024 may see the sequel to last year’s orca-mania — and we, for one, will be watching with eyes peeled.

More on animal attacks: Furious Monkeys Tear Down Anti-Monkey Posters

Orcas Strike Again, Sinking Yacht as Oil Tanker Called for Rescue

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