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S/Y Alboran Cognac Sinks After Orca Attack in the Strait of Gibraltar

On Sunday, May 12, the 15.75-meter sailing yacht S/Y Alboran Cognac met a tragic fate after being attacked by orcas in the Strait of Gibraltar. Spain’s maritime rescue service reported the incident on Monday, detailing that the vessel, carrying two individuals, was rammed by an unknown number of orcas at approximately 9 a.m. local time (0700 GMT).

The passengers aboard Alboran Cognac recounted the harrowing experience, describing how they felt repeated blows to the hull and rudders of their yacht. The relentless assault soon resulted in water flooding the vessel. Promptly after the attack began, the passengers contacted rescue services for assistance. An oil tanker in the vicinity responded to their distress call, taking the two individuals on board and safely transporting them to Gibraltar. Unfortunately, the yacht was beyond saving and ultimately sank.

Orca attacks on vessels in the Strait of Gibraltar have been an increasing concern for sailors and maritime authorities alike. This recent incident is not isolated. In November, a vessel operated by the Polish tour agency Morskie Mile was similarly attacked by orcas, resulting in its sinking after a 45-minute ordeal. Additionally, boats participating in The Ocean Race faced aggressive interactions with orcas in June 2023, where the killer whales pushed, nudged, and bit at the vessels.

The aggressive behavior of orcas in this region has left scientists and ocean researchers puzzled. Some speculate that these attacks might stem from previous negative encounters with boats, while others suggest that the orcas might be engaging in play. However, the exact motivations behind these attacks remain unknown.

Given the increasing frequency and severity of these incidents, it is imperative to find a solution to this growing problem. Researchers, maritime authorities, and the sailing community must collaborate to develop strategies to mitigate these encounters and ensure the safety of vessels and their passengers. Possible approaches could include better understanding orca behavior, developing deterrent technologies, or altering sailing routes during peak orca activity periods.

As orca encounters become more frequent, sailors navigating the Strait of Gibraltar are urged to remain vigilant and take precautionary measures to ensure their safety.

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