THE NEW YORK TIMES – The yacht Grazie Mamma II carried its crew along the coastlines and archipelagos of the Mediterranean. Its last adventure was off the coast of Morocco last week, when it encountered a pod of orcas.
The marine animals slammed the yacht’s rudder for 45 minutes, causing major damage and a leak, according to Morskie Mile, the boat’s Polish operators.
The crew escaped, and rescuers and the Moroccan Navy tried to tow the yacht to safety, but it sank near the port of Tanger Med, the operator said on its website.
The account of the sinking is adding to the worries of many sailors along the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula, where marine biologists are studying a puzzling phenomenon:
Orcas are jostling and ramming boats in interactions that have disrupted dozens of voyages and caused at least four boats in the past two years to sink.
“It’s been an interesting summer hiding in shallow waters.” – Skipper Greg Blackburn
The orcas hunting in the Strait of Gibraltar are considered to be endangered, and researchers have noticed an upsurge of unusual behavior since 2020:
A small group of the marine animals have been battering boats in the busy routes around Portugal, Spain and Morocco.
While most interactions occur in the waters of southwestern Europe and North Africa, an orca also reportedly rammed a yacht some 2,000 miles north off the coast of Scotland, according to The Guardian.
“Orcas are complex, intelligent, highly social,” Erich Hoyt, a research fellow at Whale and Dolphin Conservation and author of “Orca: The Whale Called Killer,” said. “We’re still at the early stages of trying to understand this behavior.”
Researchers have pushed back at the idea that orcas are attacking vessels …