A pod of killer whales attacks and sinks a 50-foot yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar

The Strait of Gibraltar connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.

A pod of killer whales attacked and sank a yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar, between Spain and Morocco, officials confirmed to ABC News.

Two people were on board the ship when the accident occurred on Sunday at 9 a.m. local time, according to the Spanish maritime authority.

The nearly 50-foot yacht, called The Alboran Cognac, was 15 miles off Cabo Ispartel in Morocco when an unknown number of killer whales began colliding with it.

The couple informed the Spanish authorities and a rescue team arrived to remove them from the ship an hour after the attack, although officials were unable to save the sinking boat.

There have been nearly 700 orca attacks since 2020, according to conservation group GT Orca Atlantica, and officials believe there are more than 37 orcas in the Strait of Gibraltar.

The Strait of Gibraltar connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, and separates Europe from Africa.

“During the summer and fall of 2020, interaction events began to occur between several specimens of this type and ships, especially sailboats, both in the Strait of Gibraltar and in the waters of the Galician coast,” according to Spanish government officials. “These interactions ranged from constantly approaching ships to collisions with the ship’s hull and rudder, causing various types of damage, which continues today.”

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It is not clear why killer whales attack boats, although experts hypothesize that the marine mammals can target ships for sport or because they feel threatened.

According to a study in Biological conservationa peer-reviewed journal, has found that “advanced learning abilities” exist in killer whales.

In June 2023, racing yachts in the Strait of Gibraltar encountered a pod of killer whales, race officials said at the time.

The crew members were aboard a pair of competing 65-foot yachts in the final leg of the Ocean Race, a global sailing competition, when they reported being intercepted by killer whales as their boats approached the Strait of Gibraltar.

No deaths were reported in the accident, according to officials.

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