Orcas sink another yacht after 45-minute long attack

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A pod of orcas has sunk another sailing yacht off the coast of Spain after a 45-minute assault on the boat, according to the sail touring agency Morskie Mile.

As the boat steered towards the Straight of Gibraltar on October 31, the agency reported that the vessel, Grazie Mamma II, was targeted by a pod of orcas attacking the boat’s steering fin “causing major damage and leakage,” they reported in a Facebook post.

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Although the crew was spared from any injuries, they were unable to save the yacht despite assistance from port tugs and the Moroccan Navy as the flooding was too serious. The crew abandoned the ship and the yacht sank off the port of Tangier Med, a Moroccan port.

“This yacht was the most wonderful thing in maritime sailing for all of us,” they said.

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“Longtime friendships formed on board. We sailed on this yacht around the most beautiful places in Europe and the Atlantic archipelagos, trained numerous sea stewards, discovered the beautiful and the unknown, tasted Mediterranean specialties … Love of the sea always wins.”

In June of this year, another pod of killer whales attacked boaters during an endurance sailing race as it approached the Strait of Gibraltar.

The 15-minute run-in with at least three of the giant mammals forced the crew competing in The Ocean Race to drop its sails and raise a clatter in an attempt to scare the approaching orcas off.

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No one was injured, but one of the team members Jelmer van Beek said in a video posted on The Ocean Race website that it was “a scary moment.”

Scientists have noted increasing reports of orcas, which average from 5-6.5 metres and weigh more than 3,600 kilograms, bumping or damaging boats off the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula in the past four years.

The behaviour defies easy explanation. A team of marine life researchers who study killer whales off Spain and Portugal has identified 15 individual orcas involved in the encounters — 13 of them young, supporting the hypothesis that they are playing. The fact that the two are adults could support the competing and more sensational theory that they are responding to some traumatic event with a boat.

With additional reporting from The Associated Press

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