In Portugal, a group of killer whales attacked a sailing boat carrying five people, causing serious damage to the boat.
The Lisbon Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center received an accident report at midnight on July 31 that a pod of killer whales attacked the boat carrying five people. The rescue team immediately arrived and escorted the passengers ashore and arrived at the port at 2:43 the next day.
Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are carnivores widely distributed in the world’s oceans. When mature, they can weigh up to 6 tons, 7-10 m long. They are at the top of the food chain and often hunt in packs. Killer whale prey is abundant, including fish, penguins, seals, sea lions, rays, squid, seabirds, even whales and sharks.
“Killer whale interactions with boats and humans mainly occur due to the curious behavior of juveniles, attracted by the movement and noise of boats. Upon sighting the killer whale, all sailors need to turn off the engine to stop the rotation of the propeller and fix the rudder, causing them to lose interest in the ship’s components,” the Portuguese Navy said. .
Killer whales often swim to the coast of Portugal during the summer months to feed on tuna that live around the Strait of Gibraltar. Although fearsome carnivores among many other marine animals, they rarely attack humans outside of captivity. However, this is not the first time killer whales have been aggressive towards boats in these waters.
From 2020, killer whale attacks on boats increased off the coast of Portugal. Authorities identified three juvenile killer whales as the culprits. In particular, they often target the head and rudder of ships. According to the BBC, in 2020, in just six months, authorities recorded 40 attacks by killer whales in the seas of Spain and Portugal.