Updated: Aug 13
The orca family, also known as Iberian candorcas, roaming the Portuguese and Spanish coasts were on the agenda during an unexpected period according to etiology experts and international folks. The family rose to fame due to their aggression toward specific parts of sea vessels, such as the rudders, since the summer of 2020. It is not the disruptive behaviors themselves, since they are not the first to be encountered by seafarers, that makes this sequence of events worth investigating; instead, it is the fact that they have taken place without any apparent provocation.
If we were to revert to these creatures’ history, they could be seen being amicable towards humans under normal circumstances throughout centuries. Despite their ‘killer whale’ name, they are neither whales nor aggressive but instead highly clever and social dolphins, which clarifies why they travel together in family pods. All these characteristics had become ordinary information in the eyes of people who had gained expertise in the science of animal behavior. However, in recent years, some of these giants have been causing disruptive behavior with an increasing number of them attacking small boats.
The fact that this sequence of events coincides with the pandemic makes it hard to trace the initial reason for the abnormal behavior of this particular orca pod, and it may justify its deadlock for three years. However, with the increasing boat circulation around the peninsula, the behavior pattern is getting more frequently observed, as more members of the population get better at learning how to sink a boat.
We can examine the theories put forward under the following two headings:
In the summer of 2020, this phenomenon began to develop around a single orca, Gladis. Her passion might have resulted from an interaction with an illegal fishing crew and a harpoon strike on the pod by the poachers. It is thought the crew were most likely frightened by the orcas and may have used harpoons to scare them off. Since orcas are creatures that can communicate easily and quickly, it’s a well-founded assumption for Gladis to teach her relatives her behavior in verbal and visual ways.
Dr. Ruth Esteban of the Atlantic Orca Working Group declares the dilemma not with revenge attacks but rather play. "They always seem to go for the rudder, and I think that’s because it’s a mobile part of the vessel. In some cases, they can move the whole boat with it. We see, in some of the videos, the sailing boat turning almost 180 degrees. If they see that they have the power to move something really big, maybe that’s really impressive for them." she said in an interview with the BBC.
It remains to be seen whether the world will ever encounter such an experience again. Our population may merely not be paying close enough attention to their behavior patterns, or perhaps, due to our lack of respect, we refuse to believe in the actual intelligence, influence, and power of nature of these giants while acquiring so many resources to facilitate access to information.
BBC, Have rouge orcas really been attacking boats in the Atlantic? by Victoria Gill
Simay Cemre Tulubaş