Reports of killer whales appearing to capsize ships off the coast of Spain and Portugal have raised questions about the motives behind the giant marine creature and its unusual behavior. The behavior is unusual and began in 2020, according to Andrew W. Tritz, a professor at the University of British Columbia and director of Marine Mammal Studies.
Published data shows that these incidents have more than tripled in the last two years by GTOAa group that studies killer whales in the region.
“Nobody knows why this is happening,” Trites told CBS News. “My idea, or what someone else gives you, is an informed speculation. It’s a total mystery and unprecedented.”
Trites said there was no doubt that whales were damaging ships and terrorizing people on board, but it was a mystery why. But there is something that positively reinforces this behavior, he said, and the benefits to the whales should outweigh the costs.
Only a few killer whales, also called killer whales, exhibit ramming behavior on yachts and other boats, and the behavior appears to be widespread throughout their populations. In 2011, the small group had only about 39 whales, Trites said.
The whales are common in summer near Spain and Portugal, and dozens of people have reportedly witnessed the action.
Last week, a pod of killer whales broke the rudder of a sailing vessel in the area and impaled it on the hull. The four crew members on board had to call the authorities for help, but we were rescued. Reuters report. Their boat was towed to port for repairs. Earlier this month, three killer whales collided with a sailing yacht. After the accident the boat was flooded and could not be towed.
this is only one of about 20 What GTOA recorded in the region this month, a group that studies killer whales in the region. Spain’s transport ministry has advised boaters to leave the area if they observe a change in the direction or speed of the killer whales and to report any contact, according to Reuters.
Between July and November 2020, the GTOA recorded 52 exchanges between the Strait of Gibraltar and Galicia in northern Spain. The following year there were 197 exchanges, and in 2022 there were 207 exchanges. The GTOA said the incident primarily affected yachts.
a Research on the destructive behavior of killer whales Co-author of the study, Alfredo López Fernández, said: told live science Most of the exchanges were harmless, but he said at least three ships had sunk since the practice began in 2020.
López Fernández, a biologist at Portugal’s Aveiro University who also works with GTOA, told Live Science that the origin of the behavior is unknown. There have also been some reports speculating that the orcas may be teaching each other, but he said the behavior may simply be spreading to the younger ones as they imitate the older ones. says.
Trites doesn’t believe the incident was an attack and speculation that the whales are “retaliating”, but he doesn’t believe that. “I read that one of the adult women took revenge on something and taught her revenge by ramming other ships and deliberately sinking them,” he said. “Braming a ship makes as much sense as running into a brick wall at full speed. You’ll get hurt.”
He said he doesn’t believe the idea, or the theory that whales are angry because there are too many ships in the ocean. what is his theory? “I think it’s just playful behavior that got out of hand,” he said.
Trites said whales do not eat humans and there have been no reports of whales attacking humans. However, this change in whale behavior is dangerous and can result in the deaths of boaters.
He said the behavior was reminiscent of a whale named Luca that was spotted off the coast of Vancouver, and that it left the pod and began chasing the boat. “Then he learned how to grab his rudder and detach it to immobilize the boat and push the boat forward,” Trites said. “In his case, he wanted social interaction, and he found that disabling the boat could prolong the interaction, so the boat had to stay with him. I have to.”
Trites said killer whales are social and tactile animals. Some like to swim together and rub against each other, or ride in the wake of a boat and feel the water pushing them. “I know a lot of cases where killer whales come in and almost get their noses up to the propeller of the boat and feel the water flow over them. It’s like being in a Jacuzzi,” he says. To tell.
Trites said some reports from Spain and Portugal were consistent with this behavior of whales sticking their noses behind ships.
“If there were researchers on board who understood killer whale behavior, they might explain it differently, so it’s a bit difficult to judge how to judge this explanation,” he said. Some boaters may feel attacked, the researchers added. It may simply be characterized as a whale rubbing against a boat.
“The positives here could come from rough cohabitation with something else – they certainly live rough among themselves – tactile, tactile – we are killer whales are gnashing their teeth on the bodies of other whales – all these could be behaviors they are aiming at some boat and they have found that they derive pleasure from doing so. rice field.”