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'Vengeful' killer whale and gang of orcas behind the sinking of three boats

'Vengeful' killer whale and gang of orcas behind the sinking of three boats

No-one messes with orcas...

They are the apex predators of the ocean, and now a pod of orcas has taken to sinking boats.

Orcas are simply not something that anyone should take a chance with. sperm whales, great white sharks, blue whales - none of them are safe from the highly intelligent and creatively violent species. Even being out of the water is not necessarily a help, as the predators are known to snatch sea lions from the beach and create waves to throw seals from the ice. In short, no one messes with orcas.

Orcas are extremely intelligent hunters.

So it's not exactly comforting to discover that one pod of these marine menaces has taken to sinking yachts off the coast of Gibraltar. No fewer than three boats have already been sunk by the marauding cetaceans.

It seems that gangs of orcas have been learning from a ringleader named Gladys. Experts now believe that Gladys has a vendetta against boats after she was struck by one or became entangled in nets, which would make her disapproval of boats understandable.

And if you think a boat is big and strong enough to withstand orcas, think again. Researchers recently recorded pods of orcas successfully attacking and killing a healthy adult blue whale, which can grow to 30 metres long. Many privately owned pleasure or fishing boats are small fry compared to a leviathan like that.

Skipper Greg Blackburn recalled a hair-raising encounter with Gladys and her gang on 2 May. Greg had been sailing on the Bavaria 46 in the Strait of Gibraltar in rough weather when he realised that the boat was being targeted.

Amidst the 10ft rolling waves and 30 knot winds, the whales struck at the boat's rudder with two heavy blows. He told 9News that this was the point they realised 'there was definitely something down there'.

Orcas have no natural predators.

Two large orcas carried out the initial ramming, only to be joined by another four.

He recounted: "Once the main pod turned up, it looked like there was a matriarch with a calf. I thought 'oh dear' when I saw them. There's not a lot you can do at that point.”

"After reading reports and knowing what has been going on, I just thought we were in for a ride now."

Greg's response was to try and make the boat 'as boring as possible'. They were able to survive the assault but suffered extensive damage from the whales' relentless attack.

A study published in Marine Mammal Science in June 2022 records that the attacks are becoming more frequent. They also typically follow the same pattern, with orcas approaching from the stern to hit the rudder. Once they have stopped the boat, they typically lose interest.

It's not the first time that ships have succumbed to being attacked by whales. On 20 November 1820 the Nantucket whaling ship, the Essex, was rammed and sunk by a sperm whale. The incident was the inspiration for Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick.

Orcas are highly intelligent and effective hunters. They have been known to target everything from large whales - including Great White Sharks - to seals, sea lions, and sometimes small fish such as herring. They have no natural predators.

There have been attacks on humans by captive orcas, including fatal attacks. However, no attacks on humans by wild orcas have ever been recorded, though this could just be because they're smart enough to always get away with it.

Featured Image Credit: Francois Gohier / VWPics / Alamy Stock Photo/TF1

Topics: World News, News, Weird