An orca has started attacking boats for “revenge” and her fellow whales are following suit.

Sailing in the open sea and plowing through the deepest oceans is certainly a fascinating and evocative experience, even if it is not free from dangers : the waters, as we know, are inhabited by potentially dangerous creatures , such as sharks for example. However, by taking the right precautions, you could avoid being attacked. Other large cetaceans could roam near the boats, including killer whales , which, despite the appearance and the epithet given to them, generally have a non-aggressive nature . One of them, however, seems to have decided to organize some kind of menacing expedition to a boat sailing in Iberian waters.

Although they are often referred to as “killer whales”, these animals are usually not aggressive towards humans and do not pose a danger to anyone who encounters them. However, an episode that took place in the waters of Spain and Portugal suggested otherwise. One female, nicknamed Gladis Bianca , has attracted attention after she ‘organized’ attacks on boats sailing in the area. Contacts between ships and killer whales are a rather peaceful custom , but in this case it is not at all the case: in recent times, these marine mammals have proved to be unusually aggressive towards boats.

According to scientists , this sudden change in behavior is due to a ‘ revenge crusade ‘ organized by Gladis herself. Since 2020, violent clashes between ships and orcas have been ongoing in areas of Galicia and the Strait of Gibraltar . The episode that saw Gladis in command, however, aroused particular perplexity: six orcas attacked a boat captained by Greg Blackburn , who recounted his hard struggle not to lose control of the 14-metre long sailing ship. The group of cetaceans literally attacked the moving object, seriously hampering navigation .

In 2020, the journal Marine Mammal Science published a study on this growing phenomenon : since this behavior has never occurred before, it is believed to be derived from emulation rather than nature. The attacks always seem to follow the same pattern : the animals head towards the pool to hit the rudder and, once they have succeeded in interrupting navigation, they move away. Juvenile specimens mimic the behavior of older orcas, and then spread this modus operandi among themselves.

Experts have deduced that Gladis Blanca experienced a traumatic moment , perhaps because she was hit and injured by a moving boat, developing this behavior following the episode, being followed by the younger orcas for mere emulation. It would therefore be an unprecedented attitude learned by pure imitation , and not deriving from Gladis’ desire to teach her companions to be aggressive. According to scientists, the harmless new habit  is set to fade over time, but after around 500 attacks, three of which resulted in the sinking of boats, fears for the safety of sailors are more intense than ever.


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