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Orcas Are Ramming Small Boats Off The Spanish Coast

Orcas have been sinking ships off the coast of Portugal and Spain, with at least three attacks happening in the last month. 

Scientists now believe this alarming behaviour could be caused by a female orca traumatised by a rudder strike. 

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This female orca is believed to be seeking “revenge” and potentially imparting this behaviour to other pod members.

On today’s episode of The Briefing, we talk to Luke Rendell from the University of St Andrews in Scotland to find out what it actually looks like?

Mr Rendell said that typically, the whales would approach boats when they become interested in the boats rudder: the external part of the boats steering apparatus. 

The whales sometimes attempt to put the rudder in their mouths and sometimes chew on it.

Some boat designs seem to get quite a lot more than others. In particular, a type of product called a spade rudder,”

Mr Rendell said.

Scientists believed this type of interaction came down to one particular group and one female individual named Gladis Blanca.

Some of her sons and grandsons, particularly young males seem to be engaging in it as well, but it’s a very small number of animals, and it’s really only ever been seen in this particular area,”

he said.

In the whale world, females pass on knowledge of feeding grounds and techniques, with “grandmother” orcas taking the observer role when directing the events.

There are a number of casual speculations. One is that this older female had a particularly traumatic interaction with the boats at some point in her life, and is working that out with this kind of behaviour,”

he added.

Mr Rendell also said that another speculation was related to the pressure of securing reliable food sources, as orcas are known to hunt tunas actively.

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