According to Live Science, a series of incidents involving groups of Orcas sinking boats off the coast of Europe has puzzled scientists. Orcas, commonly known as killer whales, are typically not aggressive creatures. However, the first incident occurred in May 2020, and researchers believe it was triggered by a traumatized orca experiencing a critical moment of agony. Since then, there have been additional reports of orcas attacking sailboats and other vessels.
While most of these interactions have been harmless, over 500 incidents have been recorded since the initial event in 2020. Concerns are growing as three ships have been sunk as a result of these orca boat attacks. Although scientists are not completely certain about the origin of these attacks, it is evident that the orcas are intentionally targeting boats. The prevailing theory among researchers is that the behavior is spreading through social learning within the orca population.
The situation remains a mystery, and scientists are working to understand why these normally non-aggressive animals are engaging in such behavior. Continued observation and research will be crucial in determining how this phenomenon may develop in the future.
According to experts studying the incidents, the initial event was triggered by a traumatic experience suffered by a female orca named White Gladis. It is believed that she either collided with a boat or became entangled in an illegal fishing net, which caused a behavioral shift. As orcas are social animals, the altered behavior began to spread within the population, culminating in the recent incident where three orcas attacked and ultimately sank a small boat.
What makes this situation even more intriguing and puzzling is that the orcas consistently target the boat’s rudder, biting or breaking it. If this behavior is defensive in nature, it has the potential to persist, posing a risk not only to boats but also to the orcas themselves, who may suffer trauma from colliding with these vessels.
Although the deaths of four orcas that occurred since the first boat attack in 2020 cannot be directly linked to the incidents, there is a possibility of some connection. Scientists are still baffled as to whether the orcas’ actions are driven by playfulness or if they are actively attempting aggression, as orcas are typically more playful creatures.
It is worth noting that orcas are one of the few animals that sharks fear, which might explain their capacity for aggression. Even if the orcas’ attacks on boats are playful in nature, their strength and potential for harm should not be underestimated.