And we thought AI was going to take us down...
A series of recent incidents involving killer whales near the Iberian Peninsula has captured attention, evoking comparisons to the iconic movie "Jaws," albeit with a twist. Unlike the movie, these orcas have been attacking boats, including one that ultimately sank, leading some to draw parallels to a dark version of "Free Willy."
Reports indicate that these killer whales are not only attacking boats but also appear to be teaching their young to do the same. This behavior is unprecedented, leaving researchers intrigued and concerned. They believe that a female killer whale named "White Gladis" may be at the center of these events, suggesting that she might have been traumatized by a previous interaction with a boat. It is possible that she had a collision or encountered illegal fishing activities that resulted in entrapment.
Sailboats seem to be the primary targets of these orchestrated attacks. Witnesses have observed the orcas deliberately ramming into the boats, particularly targeting the rudders. Werner Schaufelberger, who experienced one of these encounters, shared his harrowing experience, stating, "At first, I thought we had hit something, but then I quickly realized that it was orcas attacking the ship. The attacks were brutal."
Thankfully, Schaufelberger and his crew were rescued by the Spanish coast guard before their boat sank.
Representatives from the Atlantic Orca Working Group, such as Alfredo Lopez Fernandez, have asserted that these orcas are intentionally engaging in this behavior. Reports indicate that there have been over 200 incidents of orcas approaching or touching boats in the area since 2020.
Given the situation, recommendations have been made for individuals encountering killer whales at sea. It is advised to maintain a low profile on deck and refrain from entering the water with them.
These unprecedented interactions between killer whales and boats raise concerns about the safety of sailors and the well-being of these marine mammals. Further research and investigation will be necessary to understand the underlying causes and find ways to mitigate these confrontations in the future.