white and black killer whale on blue pool

Orcas to Sail Boats: Get Out of My Water, I Want My Tuna

In the latest episode of orca-boat “interactions” near the Iberian peninsula, five people had to be rescued by Portuguese fishermen after killer whales sank their sailing boat.

The Portugal Resident reports that an encounter 11 km from Sines between a sailing boat and some orcas — otherwise known as killer whales — has resulted in so much damage that the five people onboard had to ditch the vessel as it sank and board a life raft. All five were picked up by a Portuguese fishing boat and brought to shore with assistance from the Sines port authorities and the Portuguese Navy. 

The Resident wrote last September about orcas immobilizing three sailing boats off the Algarve coast, near Faro, Lagos, and Sagres, within a span of two days. The orcas kept ramming the boats’ rudders until they broke. None of the boats sank in those incidents, however.

Experts have yet to determine why orcas are going after sailing boats, a phenomenon first recorded in 2020, according to the Resident. What they do know is that the group of orcas behind the “interactions” is a sub-population that feeds on Atlantic bluefin tuna.

OrcaIberica.org has some tips for sailors whose boats get unwanted attention from orcas. Also, the organization says in its illuminating FAQ that there have been no known killer whale attacks on humans, presumably among the Iberian population studied by the group. 

There have been no known fatal orca attacks on humans in the wild anywhere else either, according to LiveScience.com.

It’s a different matter at SeaWorld, though (this link is not for the squeamish), as well as at other fish tanks

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