Killer Whales Attack and Sink Another Boat in Strait of Gibraltar!

In a harrowing incident on Sunday, a sailing yacht sunk in the Strait of Gibraltar after being attacked by a group of orcas. The vessel, named SV Alboran Cognac, was carrying two crew members who were rescued by a nearby oil tanker. This event adds to a disturbing trend of orca attacks on boats in the region, a behavior that continues to baffle scientists and maritime experts.

The attack occurred around 9 a.m. local time, approximately 14 miles off the coast of Cape Spartel, situated in the narrow strait between Spain and Morocco. The crew reported feeling strong blows to the yacht’s hull and rudder, inflicted by the orcas. The relentless assault caused a significant water leak, eventually leading to the vessel sinking.

Spain’s maritime rescue service responded promptly to the distress call. The coordination center in Tarifa facilitated the evacuation of the crew members, who were successfully rescued by the oil tanker MT Lascaux within an hour. The crew disembarked in Gibraltar by 10:30 a.m., but the SV Alboran Cognac was lost to the ocean.

This incident is part of a broader pattern of aggressive orca behavior that has been increasingly reported in the Strait of Gibraltar and surrounding waters. These attacks are particularly prevalent between May and August, a period when pods of killer whales are frequently observed in these areas. However, incidents have been documented throughout the year, indicating that the risk persists beyond the peak season.

Killer Whales Attack and Sink Another Boat in Strait of Gibraltar

The phenomenon has sparked significant concern and curiosity among researchers. Last October, a Polish boat touring company experienced a similar ordeal when orcas repeatedly rammed into one of their yachts, causing it to leak and eventually sink. In June of the previous year, two teams competing in an international sailing race faced terrifying encounters with orcas, who rammed and pushed their boats while sailing west of Gibraltar.


No casualties have been reported in these incidents, but the aggressive behavior of the orcas poses a serious threat to maritime activities. In response, sailors have been advised to avoid certain areas known for orca interactions. Some have even resorted to unconventional deterrents, such as blasting thrash metal music, in an attempt to fend off the marine predators.

The research group GTOA (Grupo Trabajo Orca Atlantica) has been closely monitoring these interactions. According to their data, there has been a significant increase in orca encounters since 2020. However, recent figures suggest a potential decline in such incidents. Between January and May of this year, GTOA recorded only 26 interactions in the Strait of Gibraltar and Bay of Biscay areas. This number represents a 65% decrease compared to the same period last year and a 40% reduction compared to the average number of interactions recorded between 2021 and 2023.

Despite this apparent decrease, the unpredictable nature of these encounters continues to cause anxiety among sailors and researchers. The reasons behind the orcas’ aggressive behavior remain unclear. Some theories suggest that the whales may be reacting to stress or changes in their environment, but definitive conclusions are yet to be drawn.

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The recent sinking of the SV Alboran Cognac highlights the ongoing and perplexing issue of orca attacks on boats in the Strait of Gibraltar. While no lives were lost, the incident underscores the need for continued research and preventive measures to ensure the safety of maritime activities in these waters.

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