Five Rescued As Orca Attack Sunk Their Sailboat Off Portugal Coast

A sailboat carrying five crew members was sunk by an orca attack several miles off the Portuguese coast. According to a Portuguese Navy statement, the sailboat was around six miles off the shore of Sines when the mammals attacked.

The crew of five was saved by a nearby fishing boat after the battered sailboat suffered such severe damage that it started to float away. They succeeded in boarding a lifeboat. Following the incident, there were no reports confirming whether the crew members suffered any injuries.

Orca Attack Alert

Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center, Lisbon received an alert of the orca attack around midnight. The rescue operation lasted until 2:43 am, when the passengers were able to dock safely after being brought to the shore.

According to the Navy, interactions with these mammals are primarily brought on by the curious behavior of young orcas, which are drawn to the loud, moving structures of ships like the propeller and the rudder.

The group reminded everyone that it is best to turn off the engine to prevent the propeller from rotating and to immobilize the rudder door, which will discourage the mammals from interacting with the moving parts of the boats.

Summer Portugal Coast and Orcas

During the summer, orcas frequently visit Portugal’s coast to eat the tuna that inhabit the waters near the Gibraltar Strait. Despite being ferocious predators to certain other marine life, they rarely attack people when they are not in captivity.

Although it appears to be the first time for a boat to sink as a result, this has not been the first time orcas have acted aggressively toward boats in this particular area.

Off the coast of Portugal, orca boat attacks have risen since 2020. The authorities confirmed that three young orcas were the attackers. The orcas seem to be concentrating their attacks on the rudders and hulls of the sailboat.

Within only six months, there were 40 orca attacks off the coasts of Spain and Portugal, according to a 2020 BBC report. Since then, the attacks have persisted. In one incident, a British couple was present. After their boat was attacked, they were left stranded miles off the coast of Portugal.

According to a Facebook page discussing orca attacks, the Navy is starting an examination into this most recent incident.

Read also: Tilikum: Grim History of SeaWorld’s Killer Orca That Violently Killed 3 People

Orcas and Mental Trauma

Orcas are highly intelligent mammals that exhibit nuanced emotions. They have a history of experiencing mental trauma and acting out as a result. This was covered in the 2013 film about Tilikum, the captive killer whale at Sea World. However, the reason attacks might occur in the wild is unknown.

Researchers have seen killer whales approach fishing boats after learning that the lines might make for an easy meal. It is feasible that this has given some pods the confidence to approach boats.

It’s also conceivable that these “attacks” are not meant to be hostile actions. Scientists speculate that the playful, enormous mammals approach boats out of curiosity. However, male killer whales can occasionally reach lengths of 26 feet and weights of 12,000 pounds, making their “games” frightful and hazardous.

A Facebook user who commented under the topic “Orca Attack – Iberia” suggested that knowing more about the boats that are being attacked could help to effectively understand the reasons behind the orcas’ actions, Newsweek reports.

Related article: For the First Time, Scientists Record Orcas Hunting the Largest Animals on Earth

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