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The Attack of the Orcas

Published: May 29, 2023 - 12:36
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 02:17
The Attack of the Orcas

Earlier this month, a group of Killer Whales (Orcas) attacked a boat along the Iberian Sea, off the coast of Spain.

This is the third boat sunk in this manner in recent years. Fortunately, no human deaths or injuries occurred. Skippers onboard reported being attacked by a group of orcas, also known as killer whales. These attacks have raised concerns among cetacean enthusiasts due to the increasing frequency of such incidents.

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The increase in boat traffic along the Strait of Gibraltar is believed to have an impact on the orca pod living along the Iberian Coast. The Atlantic Orca Working Group (known as the Grupo Trabajo Orca Atlántica – GTOA) has identified a specific pod responsible for the attacks on ships. The interacting orcas in question were nicknamed Orca Gladis by Dr. López Fernandez from the GTOA. He has proposed two hypotheses: firstly, that a mother orca within the pod may have experienced trauma, and secondly, that juvenile orcas could have adopted a new repeated behavior.

Killer whales, belonging to the Delphinidae family, are the world’s top predators. They have evolved to dominate all oceans and are the largest genus within the cetacean family. They have adapted various feeding habits and morphological characteristics to suit the territory they inhabit. These charismatic species are typically recognized by their black and white colored coat, and they are often seen swimming in pods.

As their name implies, killer whales are aggressive hunters. They do not have any known natural predators except for humans. Over the decades, orcas have faced harassment and exploitation at the hands of humans, which has taught them about the dangers we pose to nature. Their high level of intelligence enables them to teach their young strategies for foraging and coordinated hunting. Humans have not only hunted killer whales but have also captured them for display in marine parks or aquariums, where they are made to perform unnatural tricks for entertainment. Although orca displays are now illegal worldwide, it does not erase the suffering orcas have endured over the years. Studies have shown that orcas that experience trauma often pass on a learned behavior of hunting the source of their trauma to their young.

In conclusion, the recent attacks by orcas on boats off the coast of Spain highlight the complex relationship between humans and these magnificent creatures. It is important to acknowledge that humans are the catalyst for such behavior. These attacks serve as a stark reminder of the consequences of our actions on the natural world. The killer whale is listed as endangered under the IUCN Red List of threatened species. The fact that nature is fighting back against human interventions is a phenomenon that many have been anticipating, highlighting the resilience possessed by nature despite all human interference. It is essential that we strive to find a harmonious balance with the species we share this planet with, ensuring their survival and preserving the beauty and diversity of our oceans for generations to come.

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About author

Jasmine Mifsud
Jasmine Mifsud, who hails from Malta, has an incredible interest in the water surrounding the small island. Her passion for the sea is not surprising, since as a little girl, her biggest dream was to explore the oceans. This ambition created its own pathway as every decision she ever made led her to become an influential woman who decided to create a life for herself instead of living in someone else’s shoes. As time flew by, she became more adventurous and curious about our blue planet. She specialized in environmental sciences and took a tangent route into maritime archaeology, which she considers to be one of her best decisions to date. Throughout her journey, she has built friendships with some of the most inspiring divers globally, all of whom share unique experiences and stories worth listening to. As a young woman in the industry, her journey has only just begun.
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