Orcas have severely damaged a boat off the coasts of southern Spain. This is the latest of many killer whale attacks in this area.
In the early morning hours of Thursday, the pod pierced and broke the rudder of the Mustique as it headed to Gibraltar.
A spokesman from the Spanish maritime rescue service stated that damage to the vessel forced its four-person crew to seek help from Spanish authorities.
The service sent a rapid response vessel and an helicopter with a bilge-pump to help the 20-metre-long (66-foot-long) vessel that was sailing under British flag.
April Boyes, a British sailor aboard the Mustique, shared photos and videos of the damage caused by orcas on her Instagram account.
She can be heard in one video saying “it sounds like they’re biting apart”.
She said later: “What began as an incredibly unique encounter, ended with orcas tearing off our boat’s rudder and then tearing off bits of the boat for over an hour.
We had water seeping into other parts of the boat, including the engine room. It was an incredibly scary experience. “We are all fine, and I am grateful to the coastguard.”
The Mustique was town in for repairs at the port of Barbate.
According to GTOA, a research group that tracks populations of Iberian orca, this incident is one of at least 20 in the Strait of Gibraltar, between small vessels, and these highly social apex predators.
GTOA data revealed that in 2022 there were 207 interactions reported.
In May the sailing yacht Alboran Champagne was also affected by three orcas a half-nautical mile from Barbate.
The ship was completely submerged and could not be towed. It was then left to sink adrift.
The Spanish Transport Ministry has issued guidelines that state that whenever a ship observes any change in behaviour, such as sudden speed or direction changes, it should leave the area immediately to avoid disturbing the orcas.
The ministry said that every interaction between a vessel and an orca should be reported to the authorities.
Orcas, also known as endangered killer whales orcas, are members of the dolphin family.
As adults, they can grow up to 8 metres tall and weigh 6 tonnes.