Orcas have struck again, this time sinking a Polish yacht passing through the Strait of Gibraltar. It's the latest in an uptick of attacks that have sunk at least three other vessels in the area since 2020, with hundreds of encounters reported; many of which have resulted in extensive damage to ships.
The yacht, named the Grazie Mamma II, belonged to the Polish tour company Morskie Mile, which detailed the attack off the coast of Morocco in a recent Facebook post. The company says that on Oct. 31, the ship was passing by through the straight when it was attacked by a pod of orcas. The mammals hit the steering fin for 45 minutes, causing major damage and leakage.
And despite valiant attempts by the captain and crew, search and rescue personnel, port tug vessels, and the Moroccan Navy to bring the yacht to port, it eventually sunk near the entrance to Morocco's industrial port complex Tanger Med.
"The crew is safe, unharmed and sound already in Spain," the post stated.
It added that the company was working to ensure that its upcoming cruises in the Canary Islands will proceed as planned, and that it would be contacting guests in the coming days.
Experts are still not sure why orcas keep attacking boast off the Iberian coast. One theory involves a "traumatized" orca that may have had a run-in with a boat or illegal fishing operation, and began teaching the behavior to others. However, it's also possible that the orcas are just playing with the boats as a form of socialization, and that the behavior isn't intended to be aggressive.
In either case, sailors have been advised to demonstrate preparedness when sailing in areas where orcas have been known to attack, as well as avoiding sailing at night or approaching the coast whenever possible.