Increasing Orca Attacks on Yachts Baffle Scientists

Written by Camilla Jessen

May.15 - 2024 11:17 AM CET

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Researchers are alarmed by the increasing number of orca attacks.

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A dramatic incident recently unfolded off the coast of Morocco, where a group of orcas attacked and sank a 15-meter sailing yacht.

The killer whales rammed the vessel several times, damaging the rudder blade and causing water to flood the hull.

According to a report in Kurier, these aggressive behaviors have puzzled the scientific community as such incidents have been escalating since 2020.

The Grupo de Trabajo Orca Atlántica (GTOA), a research group, tracks these interactions and reports an average of 168 such events annually. In 2024 alone, there have been 26 reported incidents.

Some affected boats showed teeth marks, indicating the orcas applied significant force. Sailors often had to make port with damaged rudders when they were unable to continue their course.

The motivation behind these orca "attacks" remains a topic of debate among experts.

Some suggest that the behavior might be playful, as orcas are known for their high intelligence, curiosity, and propensity to learn by imitation.

However, another theory proposes a more unsettling motive: revenge. This theory is rooted in the possibility that a traumatic experience involving a boat might lead a female orca to teach her offspring to target boats as a form of retaliation.

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