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This is why White Gladis the orca has started a killer whale uprising and won't stop sinking boats

This is why White Gladis the orca has started a killer whale uprising and won't stop sinking boats

An orca named White Gladis is being accused of leading a gang of killer whales to sink boats in the ocean, but why?

No one messes with orcas - they’re the apex predators of the ocean, the rulers, the rather aggressive and the very, very clever killers.

But while they’re often snatching up sea lions, they’re currently snatching up headlines with an ‘uprising’ along the European coasts of Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain.

A large matriarch orca, and essentially gang leader, named White Gladis is being accused of going around the waters and sinking boats. One ‘victim’ even reported: “A clearly larger matriarch was definitely around and was almost supervising.”

The work of a boss lady, right?

Unsurprisingly, social media are eating up this bizarre story and suggesting the orca and her gang are purposely attacking the sailing vessels of the wealthy for a so-called 'revenge'.

There’s been dozens of these attacks reported, with the Atlantic Orca Working Group reporting 20 incidents in May 2023 alone along the Strait of Gibraltar.

And back in October 2020, skipper David Smith’s yacht was the victim of a gang of orcas off the coast of Portugal.

He explained to the BBC how they ‘rammed' and ‘thumped’ into the boat and targeting the rudder in particular, which steers it at the back.

David said: “I think there were six or seven animals, but it seemed like the juvenile ones - the smaller ones - were most active. They seemed to be going for the rudder, the wheel would just start spinning really fast every time there was an impact.”

Similar reports from encounters agree with his idea of being targeted, with him adding: “They came to us, not the other way round.”

Numerous reports have surfaced of orcas 'ramming' into boats - but it turns out that it maybe isn't a sign of aggression.

A study published in Marine Mammal Science in June 2022 recorded the attacks becoming more frequent.

Although it’s worth noting that no humans are said to have been hurt in these cases, - though the same can't be said about the small sailing vessels that are getting pretty beaten up.

But why exactly are orcas targeting boats in this manner?

Well, experts believe that orcas like White Gladis may have ‘suffered a critical moment of agony’ involving a boat, making their disapproval of them in the water fairly understandable – we’d be defensive too if one had struck us or their nets had entangled us.

But it's been noted that once the whales have hit the rudder and then stopped the boat, they just get bored and leave. Although that’s not totally reassuring as by that point they’ve typically caused a fair bit of damage, as well as terrifying those on board.

Experts are considering many reasons why the orcas have taken such a love for going after these boats – and none of them point to a ‘eat the rich’ theory.

There’s been suggestions it could be due to a lack of food for the mammals, or even just that they’ve been disturbed by the nautical activities going back to normal after quietening down during the pandemic.

Maybe girls just want to have fun (with their gang of killer whales)?
blickwinkel / Alamy Stock Photo

But Dr Renaud de Stephanis, a biologist looking into it all, basically thinks it's because Gladis and a load of other orcas are having a bit of a laugh.

He told the BBC: “I’ve seen them attacking sperm whales - that’s aggressive. But these guys, they are playing. They can weigh four to five tonnes and when they play they really play.”

Scientists obviously understand that it’s ‘really scary’ for those on the boats, but don’t want to use the word ‘attack’ and instead, would rather call it ‘an interaction’.

You know, when you’re excited to see your mate so you just ram into them at full force?

But Renaud is a little worried, as he added: “They just play, play and play. And the game is getting worse and worse.”

And another expert added that the whales realising they can move a big object when they attack the rudder could be ‘really impressive’ to them. So yeah, they could just find what they’re doing quite cool.

Alexa, play 'Girls (and their scary gang of killer whales) Just Want To Have Fun'.

Featured Image Credit: blickwinkel / Alamy Stock Photo / NBC

Topics: Animals, Viral, Weird, World News